Tag Archives: opinion

The morning Paris was attacked

One thing I find personally disturbing about the attacks in Paris is that… I’m not shocked.

I’m sad. I’m concerned. I’m outraged. But I’m not shocked.Am I alone in feeling this?

I didn’t expect it to happen… But when I learn of so much injustice and unnecessary loss of life all over the world, then realize that the injustice and murder is perpetrated and perpetuated by the human race, acts of terrorism lose their shock value – at least for people like me who aren’t directly affected by it.

With the global society’s desensitization, there is pressure on ‘terrorists’ to get creative and level up their performance. The escalation of violence and cruelty goes on and on and on…

I’m still hopeful that there is an end to this. That enemies will sit down together and say, “This isn’t working for anyone,” and come to a resolution.

Problem is, it IS working for some people. It’s working out wonderfully for people on top amassing wealth and power at the expense of human lives and human suffering. And they will fight tooth and nail to maintain this status quo.

#ramblings

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Equality and Constant Questioning

When I explain the meaning of my tat, I get reactions like, “Wow naman.” or “Nosebleed.” or “Deeeeeeeep!”, which is perfectly fine. Deep naman talaga. Haha.

But seeing people’s exaltation over the legalization of gay marriage across the United States validates my adoration for the symbols I permanently imprinted on my body.

There is tremendous and blatant inequality everywhere, whether it’s between sexes, sexual orientations, races, economic status, religions and beliefs… We are far from a world of equal opportunity for all – and humanity may never even get there.

Thank goodness for the people that never stop moving toward that aspiration.

2015-06-27 15.50.01I salute you. I stand with you. And today, I celebrate with you in this major milestone!

Then, when the rainbow is no longer in the foreground, I will look at my wrist and remember our personal and collective struggle to question existing norms and break the tricky barriers of inequality.

Charlie Hebdo & Our Right to Speak – Breaking Down My Stance

The Charlie Hebdo massacre has gotten people talking about a whole bunch of different things all at the same time…

So after reading a bunch of opinion pieces, I leaned back and shook my brain around to break things down and figure out where I stand on these issues. (Writing helps.)

#IAmAhmed fo sho.

Freedom of Speech gives people the right to offend. And I’m guessing that’s where people start feeling iffy. It is when statements are extremely vile and completely opposed to the norm that we start seeing where people really stand in terms of respecting people’s right to express themselves. So, are you for it or not?

I am. 100%. Which is why #IAmAhmed for sure; I can be absolutely offended, rattled, even disgusted by someone’s statement and I will still stand by everyone’s right to speak – maybe even die for it.

Let’s keep in mind that the debate on our right to speak is apart and separate from the debate on what are socially acceptable and polite things to say.

Standing by the right to speak doesn’t mean you agree with all statements or condone rude behavior. And it doesn’t mean people should not be held accountable for what they say, which is why you can be fined for libel or get fired for making racist remarks at work. There is also such a thing as verbal abuse and shouting, “Bomb!” on an airplane, which, people have to realize, is
separate and different from the ridiculing and challenging of ideas – including strongly held beliefs.

Jail time or, geez, DEATH should NOT be a consequence of telling people what you think of a religion. Which is why, even though I probably wouldn’t agree with all of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons, I would still say #JeSuisCharlie .

Am I or am I not Charlie?

I’ve seen people expressing their condemnation of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons saying #IAmNotCharlie . I respect their opinion, naturally. Their cartoons are blatantly offensive. There are people that have called Charlie Hebdo racist and bigoted. I’m not sure where I stand on that yet. What I am certain of, though, is that the statement “Charlie Hebdo is a racist and bigoted publication” is up for debate. People can agree or disagree, then exercise their right to freely discuss.
Again, sadly, it has to be stated that whether or not Charlie Hebdo is guilty of bigotry, physical attacks, with murder as its pinnacle, is  never acceptable.

With what I’ve seen thus far, I am still on the #IAmCharlie side of the fence. Why? Because humanity seems light years away from accepting and respecting basic human rights, like the right to life, to speak, to be educated, etc.

And if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that Charlie Hebdo has brought forth a massive debate on our freedom to speak – what it means and where the limit lies, if there are any limits at all.

The Charlie Hebdo publication was a reminder that, to this day, there is a need to understand further, as well as promote, our basic right to speak. We, as a community of people, haven’t agreed on a Magna Carta… Which is sad and quite pathetic when you think about it. The UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. It’s 2015!

I won’t go into other rights, because that would be a whole ‘nother lengthy post. I’ll stick with our right, as humans, to speak. So…

Before we debate what are impolite, racist, insensitive, hateful, or rude things to say… Can’t we all agree that we have a right to say them in the first place?

Apparently not. The debate lives on.

Curtailing people's right to speak based on what is disrespectful or offensive is a very slippery slope. Take Raif Badawi's current case in Saudi Arabia, for example.

Here's a video narrating, quite beautifully, the story of human rights.

A Mirage in the Emirates

In the Emirates, the sun reaches far into any form of shade. Sunglasses are so much more than an accessory (Seriously, you CANNOT leave home without it.). The slightest hint of rain is a freak occurrence. Water is more expensive than petrol. Black figures floating about mustn’t be stared at. And something grand, humongous, luxurious, and/or opulent greets you in every corner.

I found myself in a whole new world, with a new (fantastic?) point of view. This would be my first long project for work and I ended up spending a month in Dubai, occasionally driving to Abu Dhabi.

What to do? What to see? There’s the tallest building in the world right next to the largest shopping mall and the biggest fountain show (in the middle of the desert). There’s the indoor ski slope and a few crazy, big water parks to choose from (in the middle of the desert). There’s a desert safari with dune bashing and a cultural show (naturally, in the middle of the desert). And a bunch of other things to see and do in this land of infinite sand! (Watch out for my posts on travel tips and places to see in Dubai.)

I found myself drawn to the Bastakiya Quarter, a restored historic district. It’s next to the Dubai Museum and the Dubai Creek and is the only place I found teeming with history and character. Get lost in the alleyways and walk into art galleries or pretty courtyards. Stroll along the notable Khor Dubai and listen for the chants from surrounding mosques. Take shelter from the heat at the Arabian Tea House Restaurant & Café. And if you’d like to try something new, just next door is the Local House Restaurant that serves camel burgers!

Hands down, my most awe-inspiring moment was visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. I’m not certain I’ve ever seen anything so massive and so beautiful. I could’ve stared at the structures in my burka for hours. I will admit, though, that I was more impressed with the exterior than the lavish rugs and golden fixtures inside.

 

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Here’s the thing about Dubai – it overflows with extravagance. Sports cars, palaces, gold and diamonds, designer brands… These are things that many aspire for. But from where I stand, there is no place for this level of excess in a world where over 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty (living on less than $1.25 per day).

Another issue that bothered me was how many Filipinos work in Dubai. It was comforting for me, in a way. You walk around a mall and every store has a Pinoy employee. Hearing the Filipino language is not at all surprising. Plus, I sometimes get perks like better service or an extra refill of my drink just because I’m Pinay. But when I stop to think about it, I can’t help but be both sad and angry about the state of my country. A lot of Filipinos leave the Philippines not because they want to travel or experience what it’s like to live elsewhere. They leave because the so-called opportunities back home cannot provide them and their family a good life. They can do the same work abroad, and get better pay.

Overall, I’m glad I experienced Dubai for as long as I did. I got past the WOW factor. It gave meDesert time to see through the mirage… Not that it was all bad! They’ve built beautiful and functional cities, a strong economy, and thriving businesses. I must also give credit to how they’ve managed to somewhat break out of the strict Islamic religion; somewhat allowing alcohol, pork, and for people (women) to dress as they please. While they still remain shackled to religious tradition, at least they don’t strictly impose these traditions on those of varying beliefs…

But could this be yet another mirage? That’s certainly a possibility. I’ve heard a number of stories that lead me to believe so.