Monday, 18 June 2012

Petticoat Government
By JDG/Jodge

I OFTEN spend my weekends at my Uncle Fred’s farmhouse. Both my uncle and aunt are dear to me but I have a closer connection to my uncle. Last Saturday, after eating our dinner, we talked in a gazebo built on top of a hill overlooking the farm. The distant sounds of bullfrogs provided simple orchestration along with the melody of the babbling moonlit man-made creek. The soft gentle breeze lulled me to the most serene state I could remember. But my uncle’s countenance was a contrast to the tranquility of the evening. I can remember how hollow his face was, how his eyes spoke of weariness, how his mouth twisted in the mockery of the shadows staring at us. He was once a handsome man, but now his face has become grim and bitter as if life played a dirty trick on him.

Attempting to slay the uncomfortable silence shrouding us both, I told him my younger sister would be marrying before this year ends. After a long moment of silence, he finally spoke, "Marriage is like putting your hand into a bag of snakes and hoping to get an eel." That was the incentive moment; it started the "pouring out of sentiments" and I became the grievance drainage. He spoke of his regrets of having married, "If I had been warned, I would have tarried. I would not have rushed into marriage. If I had been hanged when I married, my torments would have ended," he said. But he realized that it is now too late. His life is miserable, not much can be done, except on the mere acceptance that wedding and hanging are destiny.

I really do not know whether to empathize with my uncle or camp my self-formed opinions with regards to men-women domination with my aunt. I really think he is to be blamed. He is an obedient and hen-pecked husband. My aunt is a shrewish, termagant wife. Well, it is a tolerable blessing for an emotionally unstable husband. In that respect, I would admit that my uncle could have been thrice blessed.
My Aunt Claire is the embodiment of a petticoat government. Her dominion in their house is kind of political, she being the dominant figure, being superior over Uncle Fred. And that, as I can see, is demoralization to him. He has become an ordinary male staff of the petticoat rule.

Uncle Fred escapes household responsibilities; my aunt calls it indolence. He does not behave in the traditional ways of fatherhood. Aunt Claire is a symbol of all the values he rejects and all the responsibilities he ought to undertake. He is passive in his male role thus Aunt Claire is accorded with the functions that are (traditionally and technically speaking) for men: the hand that manages the people in the farm, the voice that the children listen to, the head that decides what is best for the family.

My aunt is wiser in decision-making. And she knows that he knows that too, so she has the nerve to openly tell him so. She stresses the issue on him and even proves it. She seems to be challenging the intellectual ascendancy of my uncle. And because he seems to have lost his self-esteem, he can not equate with her, thus he loses pride and confidence. I remember my aunt telling me that she has not met a man who is not intimidated by a woman’s intelligence, in reality. All right, she might be bragging. My mind played with the question, how in the world did they end up being tied into this hellish knot.

In fairness to my uncle, he has lovable traits too that make others respect him. He is a simple, meek, good-natured fellow. These made him likable to many of the fellows and children in the neighborhood. He responds to the needs of others; he does jobs for other women and plays with the children in the neighborhood. But with his family duties, he is impossible. My aunt often scolds him about his idleness and the devastation he is causing on his family.

I guess my aunt is left with no other choice but to invade my uncle’s territory. This may explain why Aunt Claire behaves like such a shrew and Uncle Fred has become hen-pecked. As she invades his territory, my aunt’s defense--a woman’s defense--would likely emerge as this: that if she seems to act aggressively or assertively or in other way unattractively, she acts as she must act. She acts as he forces her to act by his unmanly behavior; he shrinks from his responsibilities as a man. Traditionally, women are expected to fear their men, but in this family, there is a reversal of roles. My aunt as a scolding wife dominates the picture.

There are so many Uncle Freds and Aunt Claires in this society--a society that has countless assumptions about the relationships of men and women, a society that challenges familial and sexual roles, a society where the number of "housebands" is statistically escalating, a society where a considerable number of husbands are just male staff in a petticoat government.

Joan D. Gervacio, 26 years old is not sure whether she will become a shrewish wife but when she chooses her man, he should not be powerless, inadequate, or inefficient.

Petticoat Government by JDG/Jodge was published On-line at YOU (INQ7_net's Website for Interactive Youth), on July 26, 2002, Youngblood Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Danger in the Dark
I have always loved darkness. I love staring at the various shades of the twilight, as the shadows of the trees stare back at me. So, I never considered a walk at night to be tinged with danger. At least not until one midsummer Friday night, when I was on my way home.

My home, by the way, is in a sitio at Compostela Valley. It is called Bagsak from the term “basacan” which means “rice fields”. We live in a 25-hectare farm, half of which is owned by my grandfather and the other half by a family friend, now ran by my father and uncles. Only a few families, most are farm workers, inhabit the place. We are a close knit neighborhood, even though our houses are some 200 meters away from each other; separated by trees and bends of the road.

It was in that place that I learned to trust darkness. I used to brag to my friends that they could walk there by night without the fear of being harassed. Until that fateful Friday night last summer which almost ended in a catastrophe; when the place that taught me to see the magic of the night taught me to distrust darkness.
That night also stripped me of my arrogant belief and reliance on my instincts. I used to think that I could actually feel it when someone was coming or someone was watching or danger was hovering over my head. That belief made me feel invulnerable to danger. But at least in that one moment, I lost the gift. The spirits must have stripped me of the “powers” I thought I possessed.

That night, I did not make a call home to ask for someone to fetch me from the main highway. I was looking forward to enjoy the one-kilometer walk home alone. To me, it was magical to be ambushed by the shrill cry of cicadas while fireflies illumined my path. The experience was enough to release the stress accumulated from a week’s work in a city, which was a three-hour ride from my place.

When I signaled that I was getting off the bus, I noticed the surprise on the faces the other passengers. They must have seen that the street was dark and quite. There was no house nearby, no light post, and no one was waiting for me at the shed. One elderly woman asked me, “Ikaw ra isa day?” (Are you alone, lady?). I saw the anxiety in her eyes for my behalf, and I gave her a confident smile.

As the taillights of the bus disappeared in the night, darkness embraced me. I wasn’t in a habit of using a flashlight. I thought I would be safer if I didn’t use one since nobody would notice me walking in the dark. And as darkness engulfed me, I had no inkling that danger awaited me ahead.

I was a half-kilometer away from our house savoring the peace I longed to feel, when I saw a flicker of light. I couldn’t say if it came from a lighted cigarette or a firefly. But I trusted the place so much to entertain the idea that someone with cigarette was waiting with something evil in mind.

As I turned a bend in the road, I sensed footsteps behind me. Impulsively, I glanced back and saw a dark figure. That was then I started to feel scared and alarmed. I began to run, so did he. One by one, the fine hair on my neck rose and bristled. So I put on a burst of speed but at the very instant, he leapt to catch up with me. Then, I felt his body colliding with mine. The impact knocked me off my feet.

I must have lost consciousness for a few seconds after my head hit a rock. The next thing I knew, my attacker was dragging me down to a canal. I struggled to get back to my feet. I started to scream but he immediately clamped his hand over my mouth.

My fear was magnified and my heartbeat raced. I felt as if my veins would explode with terror. I could not believe that what I had heard on radio and seen on TV was actually happening to me.

He pinned me down with his body and started to kiss me. I was trying to think but my mind froze. Desperately, I pummeled his back and bit his hand, but he pulled his hand back and slapped me.

It was a good thing he did. It ignited a blaze of rage and fury! Pain! Numbness! Touching Hands! Nauseating breath! My fear was transformed into anger.

I struck at him, catching him in the face. As he tried to get on top of me again, I remembered what my father taught me about self-defense, I thrust my forefinger and middle finger aiming for his eyes. Immediately I felt him loosening his grip. I broke free and began to run, but I did not get very far. The man caught me again.
With all my remaining strength, I kicked him between his thighs (something I had seen on TV). He cried out in pain.

I fled from there, running faster than I had ever run in my whole life. I didn’t bother to look back and see if the man was still chasing me. All I could think was to get away from that maniac. Only when I reach our house did I stop running.

My legs were aching; my breath came out rasping in my throat as I looked in agony at the empty road behind me. As I stared at the darkness, it seemed to mock me. The mysterious darkness seemed to give a lie to my declaration that my home was a peaceful place.

We reported the incident to the authorities. They theorized that it was not a chance attack. The maniac must have known that I was going home that night and planned it. Unfortunately, the police could find anything that could help them identify my attacker.

As I write this, I still shudder at the memory of that night. In fact, the episode somehow seems to have become more terrifying.

That terrible experience made me lose my confidence and arrogance in walking at night all by myself. But when I cannot avoid walking alone at night, I make sure that I have my cellular phone, a flashlight, and a tube of tear gas.

That taught me that danger exempts no one, sets no apt time, excludes no place, no matter how familiar and how peaceful it may appear to be. That night taught me that to walk alone at night is to invite danger.

Danger in the Dark by Jodge (Joan D. Gervacio) was published both in Print Version and On-line Version. March 19, 2002, Young Blood Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

For all YOUNG WRITERS (ages up to 25 years old), GRAB THIS OPPORTUNITY!

The Goi Peace Foundation and UNESCO are inviting young people from around the world to enter 2009 International Essay Contest.

The theme is "The role of science in building a better world?

Deadline for the entry: June 30, 2009.

First prize winners: cash award and a trip to Japan.

Please click HERE to see the complete guidelines.

Please kindly disseminate the information about the Essay Contest to young people within your network.

Friday, 13 February 2009

sarcastic yet very honest and funny rantings about loving and asking to be loved

My previous blog reminds me of Beau Sia's slam poetry on love... This is quite long but it's really funny. His sarcastic yet very honest rantings dramatize his final plea.

video credit: KateJB2@youtube

"Love" by Beau Sia was first performed at Marymount Manhattan College, New York City, fall 1996. There are some lines in the text below that were not said in Beau Sia's performance at Def Poetry (in the video).

I think love is the most beautiful thing
in the world,

and I don't give a fuck,
because I have no original ideas.
I'm a pathetic man
whose goal is to read poetry
in order to get women to fall in love with him,
and you'd think I was reprimanding myself
revealing my horrible dark side
by saying that,
but I was really saying
"women who hear this, fall in love with me, or else,"

because that's what it comes down to --
an ultimatum,
life or death, and sure,
maybe I'm being extreme,

but you walk around and tell me
that things aren't extreme,

I've seen a man jack off to a gap window display,
so don't tell me that love isn't important.
and maybe you didn't get that series of lines,
that's OK,
most of them are subtext designed
to impress people
who know too much about art,
all you need to listen to is
the 12 percent
which contain words like "fuck," and "ass,"
and "ride my dongstick, you naughty schoolgirl."
because in a poem about love
we all need to know the relevant things,

because we're all looking for the complete definition of love,

if only we could open our encyclopedia brittanicas
and look up love and know,
but love isn't that easy.
they say cupid loved my so called life
and when the show was cancelled

cupid cried and cried and cried and
decided that he was going to fuck up all of humanity, and
this is why China has a trouble with its birthrate
Arkansas rhymes with date rape
Iraq is Iraq,
the fat lipo-sucked out of California

could be
its own island.
but this isn't a poem about geography,
this is a poem about love,

the bane of my existence,
the reason why I hate Valentine's day
and Halloween,
which is about ghosts
I think you know where I'm going here.

I'm going to the land of girlfriends of Halloweens past, and
maybe I've only got three ghosts in this land,

but this doesn't mean that they don't bring their friends,
who are the ghosts of girls who have rejected me,

because girls rarely travel alone in this land
Lydia is from this land.
I used to kiss her
while listening to
the Cure's "just like heaven,"
now I don't see her anymore,

so that song makes me sad,

why must we associate music with our love lives?
I'm not trying to be profound here,

I'm just saying that music really takes me back,
way back,
and I can't explain the memory process involved in that,
because I am not a Psychology major,
my problem with picking up women
has to do with me always asking,
"what's your major?"
But that only makes me as cheesy
as 90 percent of guys
looking for women, and
86 percent of them have women,

So what's the deal here?
Maybe I shouldn't think of women
in terms
of picking them up, and
maybe I should open up my sensitive side,

but really, the sensitive side sucks.
I've been there.

You can only imagine the kinds of sweaters
they make you wear.
it's not fair, love is not fair, and
war is not fair,
I don't care what anyone has to say about
any of that,
I feel unloved, I'm sorry I need people to tell me I'm cool,
I'm just that way.

aren't you?
am I the only one?

I know that I can't be that misunderstood.
but you don't want to understand me!
you just want to hear the part
where I talk about my small dick again,
because the Asian man will always be plagued by this rumor
until he is brave enough to fling it out and say,


this is not the direction I wanted to take this poem.
honestly, I just want to be in the arms
of my true love,
in a house,
in a room,

in a wonderful, perfect world with our two children,
a boy and a girl,
Helga and Lamar,
but maybe I shouldn't have said this,

Woody Allen taught us that marriage is a death trap.
I'm almost as old as his girlfriend.
she could be the long lost sister I've been looking for,
maybe my mother gave her away when we lived in China,
wait, I never lived in China.
I think I've begun lying in this poem.
I was hoping to talk about love
for 3.4 minutes and
come to a conclusion,
somehow defining love within the poem,
I don't have any answers and
I'm looking for help from anyone,

because love has got me fucked up
and dying,
because I feel retarded without anyone to hold me,
maybe that's sentimental,

but what's wrong with sentimental?

I just need love --

to self: fuck you, I'm OK!

you see, I can't even decide what I need

much less understand what I'm saying.
you see,
all I'm saying
love me.

Monday, 9 February 2009

FREE HUGS on Friday the 13th up to Heart’s Day!!!

I am an advocate of Free Hugs Campaign (started by Juan Mann in 2004)...

The Wikipedia says that this year (2009) Free Hug Day will take place internationally at 00:01 on Friday February 13 until 00:00 (midnight) on Saturday February 14, at each country's respective times.

If you have not known of this campaign yet, please click HERE.

Below is the music video (which helped popularize the campaign) by the Australian band Sick Puppies.

Video credits to PeaceOnEarth123@YouTube

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