Monday, August 21, 2006

Cruz vs. Quezon: A "Clash of Generations"

Last week, amidst the House impeachment hearings and the Guimaras oil spill, Isagani Cruz’s Philippine Daily Inquirer column condemning cross-dressing homosexuals created quite a stir in Manila. Cruz’s column merited a stinging rebuke from fellow Inquirer columnist Manolo Quezon III and widespread condemnation from gay activist groups. Last Sunday, Cruz in his column apologized to Manolo for hurting his feelings but remained unapologetic for all else that he wrote. In turn, Quezon responded with another bitingly-written column today. With neither side wanting to give in, this sordid affair promises to be a long and bitter one. For my part, what caught my attention was not the things Justice Cruz actually wrote but rather Manolo Quezon’s admission that he was gay. I think Quezon’s revelation brought about more commotion in political and media circles than Cruz’s criticism of hysterical homosexuals.

Some people have called Justice Cruz mean-spirited and homophobic. But I totally understand what Cruz only tried to point out, which is: people should observe proper decorum in public. I think in Cruz's day it's called "urbanidad." Urbanidad is a code of behavior, a sort of “good manners and right conduct” for urban-dwellers which our forefathers practiced. In the old days, people considered it a mark of good breeding if one observed 'urbanidad.' Of course, societal mores change: a girl wearing a 'spaghetti' dress to mass would have been branded a harlot and would have been excommunicated during the Spanish period. But wearing skimpy clothes to mass is acceptable today. Of course, it still merits considerable consternation from among older Filipinos. In criticizing cross-dressing gays, I think Cruz was only ruing the demise of traditional Filipino mores and was longing for a return of the “good old days.” Avid readers of his column would agree with my observation that lately, Cruz likes to write about his idyllic childhood. His previous columns are full of personal recollections about growing up in pre-War Manila. I just wish that as an eminent columnist and a former SC Justice, Cruz should have been more circumspect and sensitive in his choice of words. But then, how many columnists practice that nowadays?

Like Cruz, I also believe that all people, whether gay or straight, should be conscious not to violate other peoples’ sensibilities and cause discomfort to others. I believe that homosexuals should be bound by the same rules as heterosexuals when it comes to certain societal norms of acceptable human behavior. Cross-dressing, which I'd like to think is still considered inappropriate and unacceptable behavior in most countries, violates peoples’ sensibilities. I mean, I would find it improper for a gay bank teller to wear make-up and a skirt at the bank just as I would find it funny to see a “straight” person wearing a coat and tie at the beach. Of course, cross-dressing gays and tuxedo-wearing beach excursionists may very well become the fashion in the future but I believe that we should not allow this to be happen just because we are afraid to be accused of bigotry.

In his column's opening line, Isagani Cruz wrote: "HOMOSEXUALS before were mocked and derided, but now they are regarded with new-found respect and, in many cases, even treated as celebrities..." Well, judging from the flack that he is currently getting, Cruz definitely proved his point: gays in the Philippines today are not only treated with respect but they DEMAND to be respected. Moreover, not only are homosexuals respected but they have become powerful purveyors of public opinion. And Isagani Cruz was wrong in saying that this respect for gays is "new-found" because ever since pre-colonial times, homosexuals (the Babaylan) already enjoyed a high place in Philippine society.

Nowadays, it is hip to be gay. I think what really gets Cruz's goat is the fact that "gay culture" is now considered hip in the Philippines the way "black culture" is considered cool in America. White American kids emulate how African-American rappers dress, speak and act while here, it has become fashionable for even "straight" Filipinos to use "gayspeak." Homosexuals totally dominate the local fashion and beauty industry, the culture & the arts scene, and the showbiz industry. Also, consumer firm are trying very hard to capture the "pink" peso and marketing people are figuring out the unique characteristics of the "gay market" nowadays. The reason being that since they are generally "single," homosexuals have larger disposable incomes than married couples. Homosexuals have indeed come a long way since Cruz’s time. For example, I don't think many people realize this, but almost all of our showbiz film directors are gay (Carlo J. Caparas is so far the only "straight" director I know). This is seen by some as the reason why rape scenes are rather standard fare in Philippine movies (a friend of mine has since boycotted watching Filipino movies because she always encounters a rape scene added to it). And since movies have a pervasive influence on our population (especially on our impressionable youth), some quarters fear that the predominantly gay showbiz community have inadvertently fostered their "alternative" sexual orientations and “different” views about relationships and have "conditioned" the minds of the public to accept outlandish gay behavior as perfectly normal.

Although I don’t entirely buy that line, I honestly wish cross-dressers would try to be more “discreet” and not flaunt too much their “gayness” by wearing gaudy clothes and make up. It may sound unbelievable to some but even “conservative” gay people I know likewise feel that cross-dressing homosexuals give homosexuality a bad name. “Screaming faggots” tend to put all gays in a bad light and makes them objects of derision. I think, in this case, Manolo Quezon is misguided in defending the rights of gays to dress and act as they please. And I do not think Cruz is guilty of bigotry, as some angry bloggers accuse him of, for he was only pining for the "lost age" of his Pre-War childhood years and was only wishing that the new generation would not be too hasty in dismissing long-established Filipino mores as "outdated" (makaluma).

The way I see it, the Quezon vs. Cruz fight is a "clash of generations," with Manolo representing the new and Justice Cruz representing the old. Quezon wants Filipinos to embrace change while Cruz on the other hand, pines for a return of the "golden days." It is a fight for the hearts and minds of the Filipino youth and only time will tell who wins in the end.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you have missed the whole point of MLQ3's message that it is within an individual's right to express him-/herself as he/she solely wishes. He must not be bound by the arbitrary and narrow-minded norms of society just so that the sensibility of the majority may be satisfied. It is not a question of gawdiness or what is prim and proper (are you another emily post wannabe?) or what is socially acceptable, it boils down to civil liberty and right to self-expression without being bashed and derided by society.

In a nutshell, you have missed the point and settled on the superficiality of the issue, which may explain your level of reasoning.

Iloilo City Boy said...

I understood Manolo's point clearly. And I don't think I'm being superficial - I considered his thoughts carefully and eventually I decided I don't agree with him. If I don't agree with him, it doesn't mean I don't understand him. (Is that simple enough for you to understand?)

I don't understand why people are so passionate about the gay's right to cross-dress (which this issue is all about). I mean, no one is stopping them from doing that. But they should not expect people to accept it as perfectly normal, much less applaud them for doing so. It's like in the 70s, nauso for a time yung "bra-less." But it didn't catch on because the "avante-garde" thinking women eventually realized that they are just making a fool of themselves, aside from making lecherous old men happy.

Jay Tan said...

Very well put. The anonymous author of the comment is jules. He also put the same comment in my blog. At any rate, i agree to everything that you said.

Anonymous said...

Ah!! freedom, is so near yet it's so far.I don't understand why people will be offended by gays in general or by crossdressing gays in particular.Do these gays doing something that will make everybody gay? Do these gays doing something to break up families? Do they espoused ill will to anybody whose not gay? Do they threaten the foundation of the family? Do they go out and write articles lambasting people on the stuff that they wear? We know the answers to these questions.How come then that people are so afraid? because Filipinos doesn't want to acknowledge that we have a portion of our society that loves to wear the dress of the opposite sex.We simply have the trouble accepting it because it's not within the norms of our society.Having been educated from Elementary 'till college in a strict Catholic environment I do understand the feelings of these gay bashers.We should probably open our eyes that we are in a Democratic-Secular State and that people can wear whatever they want as long as it's not obscene and doesn't harm other people.Gay community contributes a lot to the society, they have suffered so much already from being such, they deserved to be freed from the bondage of oppresion.Try reading a book called "Covering" by Kenji Yoshino and you'll probably have a better understanding on the subject.I recommend also an episode of a show called "Penn And Teller bullshit" .They have a segment on gays and it's impact on families in the U.S.

Jay Tan said...

Jules: "people can wear whatever they want as long as it's not obscene and doesn't harm other people."

Very well said. I agree with your argument, which ironically, defeated all that you stood for. We, the minority who oppose vulgarity and scandalous behaviour, be it by men, women or gays would just like to appeal to reason. We all know that many gays wear obscene clothes and in the process, offend the sensibilities of people. Yet they do not violate any law, much less violate morals and ethics. However, must they be allowed to keep on offending society by permitting to act without limits? What they do instead, is abuse their rights - and that is, of course, the right to express gayness through clothing. Society in general permit gays to act gay. Now, just because they have a right to wear feminine clothing and act as women does not mean that they have the right to wear obscene clothes and act so loudly which is offensive and repulsive to society. Scandalous and vulgar gays should respect society's sensibilities. Must these kinds of gays be allowed to offend society even though the former do not violate any law at all?
There is a double standard here set by gays, and implicitly by society itself. If a man acts abusively, he is reprimanded, if a vulgar gay is repprimanded for acting obscenely, the gay community would accuse society of being homophobic. As i emphasize gays must respect the sensibilities of society, by acting with proper decorum observed by all.

Also, look up Livewire Law's blog.

Anonymous said...

You are missing the point here, As I said they can wear whatever they want as long as it's not obscene, no showing of testicles or other private parts will be tolerated.People like you are just offended because they are different.The society that we grow up in is intolerant to this behavior in general, this is due to a fact that Filipinos are very religious.However as I've said we are a free and secular country, you can criticize people who do not conform to your standard but you cannot force to them whatever you considered as standard.People should learn to accept that there's a segment of our society with a unique behavior and we have to live with it.Even in America they have groups of people who are unique ie; White supremacist.They wave confederate flag , make racially charged song, and publishes writings that content racist stuff.People don't like it, but they are allowed to do so and frankly the majority don't give a damn.As people living in a Democratic state we are trying to achieve or improve ourselves so that we will be worthy of the ideals of freedom, lambasting Gays will throw us back to the middle ages.By the way I'm not jules.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I forgot to also mention that in the U.S. they have the annual Gay Pride Parade in most of the major cities. Gays from all walks of life, the military, police, firefighter,politicians and others join this parade every year.You can see Divas or crossdressing gays being paraded in a float.People are enjoying the spectacle, I have no idea what would you feel if you will witness such a grand display of crossdressing.

Iloilo City Boy said...

There's one held here in Malate I think. As you guessed, I don't watch it - I don't particularly enjoy seeing persons making a fool of themselves. Gays can do everything they like - even parade themselves in skimpy attire, I'm not stopping them - But you cannot force me to like it.

Anonymous said...

nobody is saying that people should forced themselves to like it, in the same token that nobody should shove to anybody's mouth whatever ideology they have.Each to his own, is what we should learn to adapt.Life is too short to be pissed off with stuff like this, let the gay people be happy.Chaaaringggg!!!!

Jay Tan said...

So, i guess gays are allowed abuse their rights while at the same time society is cannot discipline vulgar gays who do not act with proper decorum then. I guess we can discipline a man if he dresses obscenely but not a gay when he dressess obscenely. Very well, if that is the case, then i will expect gay men to attend weddings and formal events dressed in elegant gowns.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Mendoza,
The first time i read your blog, I got hooked. I said, finally i found someone who is making sense, knowledgeable on current events and with keen sense of concern on what's going on in the province and in the country as well. But only on this topic we differ. Sad to say that you seemed to share beliefs with former Justice Cruz who you said is "makaluma". To tell you the truth, it's not only the Pre-War "makaluma" people has that kind of mentality but also the younger few like you. It is sad that there are still people out there that cannot accept that Gay people are different from heterosexual male or heterosexual female. That is why they are called homosexuals in the first place. Can we just let them be gay? Some gays(not all by the way, some are closeted, in denial or has families) who become loud and tend to exagerate there gayness are sometimes doing it as there way of asking for acceptance or just plainly being themselves. So, as you have said you dont like them and you don't enjoy looking at them, atleast recognized them as part of the society and don't condemn them there right of behaving as one. By the way, Being in the Gay Parade is not being foolish but just being gay with a Cause. Time changed, Gays are becoming mainstream(accepted in a way) and it may be hard for people like Former Justice I. Cruz and you to accept.
To Jay Tan.. i don't even want to bother.

Iloilo City Boy said...

I think CONDEMN is too strong a word to describe my feelings towards cross-dressers - never did I say I condemn them - I just find it distasteful, much like how I also find distasteful men who walk around half-naked in public. You are correct, although I'm only in my early 30s my views tend to be on the conservative side. It's probably because of my fascination with history and all things lost that keeps me this way. Or it could be that Iloilo City Ilonggos are really just conservative by nature.

Anonymous said...

JAY TAN, no disrespect to you but I think that you just dont get it.Anybody who wears obscene clothing that can be considered lewd can and probably will be arrested by authorities in this great society of ours.The society can impose order, somebody walking with testicles dangling like one of those therapeutic swinging balls should be immediately detained and be evaluated whether to commit him to prison or to mental institution.However crossdressing and being loud in the street are not a crime, people just want to express themselves.Even you Jay, you can wear outrageous outfits if you want to, hey it's a free society. Gays are not abusing their rights,they are merely exercising it.Iloilo city boy had just hit the nail on the head, some of us are just plain conservative and we tend to disagree with what we see, but hey don't be bitter or be sorry about it, for gay people will be here for a long,long, long time.Bent your anger or frustrations in some other issues, like; the economy,politics,religion etc... jay hmmmm sounds like gay, just kidding...

Jay Tan said...

Well said. Your arguments are well said. However let me clarify, i am not bitter towards gays, nor hate filled. Neither did i say in anything that i wrote that it is a crime to cross dress. What i said is that it offends sensibilities. What i am trying to emphasize is my agreement with mr. mendoza regarding proper decorum - which if we analyze deeply covers conduct and expression. Consequently, cross dressing is covered. Our society is indeed free but it is not absolutely free. Limits are necessary. There is this widely held, yet mistaken belief that freedom is absolute, that freedom means we are free do anything that we want, even if what we want to do is kill somebody. Why not? it is a free society. Does freedom also mean we are free to offend the sensibilities of society and disregard proper decorum in public? The answer of the majority seems to be yes.

Anonymous said...

This is not a forum but I appreciate the patience of IloIlo city boy if we discuss this topic here.I totally understand your feelings, Jay.Some people's sensibilities are offended by actions of some people.I can understand this thing specially in the Philippines where we can consider a mixture but a homogenous culture.This is my point of advancing freedom.People should not be easily offended by things other people are doing.In the U.S. , specially in New york city where you have the convergence of almost all cultures in the world, if you are easily offended, then you cannot survive.You will become isolated if you harbor such feelings toward people who doesn't look or act like you do.You will have the tendency to become bias or prejudice. This behavior will have greater ramification than you think.We cannot afford to have such tendencies if we would like to advanced as a society

Anonymous said...

Mr. Mendoza,

Like the previous anonymous poster, I too am your avid reader. Maybe because like you, I also love history.
But this time, I have to disagree with you. You see, I am a 47 years old ilonggo, living a very lonely life. I am just thankful that I survived my suicidal tendencies while still a teenager.
The reason for my miserable life? I am gay! I know I am since I was a child. But I kept my sexuality from families and friends. I don't even mingle with gays like me, afraid that I maybe outed. I have nobody to turn to!
Because ilonggos like you said are conservative. And you can never accept people like me.
I now feel that my life is at its end but I have not really started living. All because of people like you and mr. cruz who refuse to accept that there are people in this world who are DIFFERENT. AND THEY DID NOT CHOSE TO BE!!!