To All the Children Bogged Down with Guilt

1 06 2011

In April 30, 2010, I wrote a short piece on the future for personal essay site New Slang. Below is the text in full:

April 30, 2010

Dear FutureSpawn,

This is your mother. I hope that you’re reading this no earlier than 2025, because I have no plans of having you in the next few years. I am not yet rich, and only rich people can have children because children are superstrength money vacuums. I trust that you are able to read this thanks to formidable schooling which I was effortlessly able to provide.

How is it over there? It’s election season back here; so far, Noynoy’s leading the polls, and Villar and Erap are tied 19 points behind. I’d vote for Noynoy if I were registered, but I’m not, and yes I suck. My half-baked defense is that I had just moved out from the family compound in Pasig and into an apartment in Quezon City, so I got confused about which district I’m supposed to vote in or some shit excuse like that, but the truth is I got lazy and now I regret it. Did the election work, though? Are you still living in a country mired in frustration? Is the Catholic Church still wielding its Scepter of Ignorance over our multitudes? Has Jolo Revilla run for anything?

Anyway, about the apartment. I moved in about 6 months ago with my boyfriend. (I would like to think that he’s your father, but in case life decides to trivialize my relationship with him down the road [which the both of us are doing our best to dissuade, because we are both of the opinion that we are awesome together], I hope your dad is not a total dickwad, and that we are no longer in contact with him in case he is.) Living at the family compound had led to claustrophobia; it had come to the point that I very desperately needed a place where I didn’t have to be cautious of what I said or did, a place where I wasn’t automatically assigned the role of “wayward offspring.” I was agitated. I stayed out most nights and did things I can’t look back on now without literally burying my head in my hands in shame. Getting the apartment has definitely made me a calmer person; the best part of any day has become the time when your maybe-father and I would make dinner and watch three straight episodes of Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew (fastforwarding over that insufferable Mario Lopez) or whatever we’d scrounge up at the dibidihan, and just exalt in our general domesticity.

Of course, it didn’t come for free. I had to get a steady job that paid well, a concept that was definitely frightening, as I had grown so accustomed to the unhinged disposition of the freelance career. But I sucked it up and landed a job as the copywriter of a big hospital’s Corporate Communications department. I believe that I’m good at it, and working in a hospital does provide a modicum of weird shit to liven the workweek, but as with any other steady job, it can get steeped in tedium nonetheless. There’s a part of me that wants out, a part that wonders what had happened to the old me, the reckless child of yore. I liked being a homebody, but that didn’t instantly purport that I was fine being an office drone too.

Now, I’m the type of person who cuts things out of my life very easily. I could’ve quit that job and tried to figure things out for myself all over again; I have that ability to harden my heart. But I only edit out things that I know are dispensable in the long run: incompetent bosses, fair-weather friends. For the very first time, I found this latest version of my life pretty necessary. And it’s not just because it allows for a place of my own, and a bit of money for some nice things and the occasional dinner out. It has also become the first crucial step towards the bigger, better version of my life I hope to achieve.

Your maybe-father and I made a pact some time ago that we would save up enough money and move from one province to another every couple of years. We wanted to have adventures. We wanted to get ourselves in trouble, to have something new and ridiculous to do together all the time. There was no better way to do that than by restarting our life together over and over from one strange place to the next. And our first stop? The tiny town of Dumaguete, where we first met a couple of years ago.

So Mom’s a big, fat cheeseball, you say? You think Mom’s masterplan is a classic illustration of the kind of idealistic and impracticable claptrap people in their quarter-life crisis hold dear? Well screw you, futurespawn. It doesn’t matter. You might know for a fact that things didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped, that something went wonky along the way, dashing my precious plans and proving that I was just another 20-something with an idiotic strategy for the future. But right now, that masterplan is what I want, and I’m going to do everything in my power to realize it. I’m going to make sure that when you read this letter, the first few sentences of this paragraph are grossly contradictory of how you feel and what you know. I mean, Mom’s always been a total hard-ass, right? Correct? Damn straight.

But again, I really do hope that these plans come to fruition. I hope that I’ve already regaled you over and over with tales of the many places I’d lived in (so far, Dumaguete, Baguio and Cebu are on our itinerary), with many strange stories and hare-brained schemes your maybe-father and I had amassed during our travels, and that you find this letter annoyingly redundant.

But if things really didn’t work out for me that way, these pieces of paper you hold in your hand is proof that I pursued that life with tremendous resolve nonetheless. That there was a time when everything I did was geared towards that specific version of a bright and shiny future, a time when I wasn’t going to let anything or anyone fuck with me in my pursuit.

I’d like to end this letter with something I told my friends back in college. I still remember it because it was likely the only lucid thing I said during a particularly drunken afternoon in a bar across school. I told my friends that if I ever had a kid, the most important thing I would tell him (I’m set on a boy, by the way, so if you’re a girl, I apologize in advance for being such a resentful bitch) is that if he has his heart set on doing something, even if I am totally against it, so much so that I will be furious with him for the rest of my life, he should do it. So I’m telling you now, futurespawn, that if there’s something you know you will utterly regret for not doing, some idea that skulks in the back of your brain every second of every day, do it. Even if I give you hell for it. Even if it breaks us apart. Your life is yours entirely, futurespawn, so make sure it’s totally awesome, okay? Okay. Good boy.

That’s it; I’m all letter’d out. Off you go now. Fly your hoverbike or whatever the hell it is you kids do. I love you.


It’s been a little over a year since I wrote that letter, and while the maybe-father and I are still very much together, we remain in Manila in the same apartment and have yet to see the aforementioned nomadic lifestyle beckoning from the horizon, if at all. But that’s beside the point of this current essay, and for the record, something did come along that drew our focus away from this particular dream: becoming active members of the Filipino Freethinkers. (And so far, it’s been the best distraction I’ve ever had.)

What hasn’t changed, however, is my stand that my child should do whatever he damn well pleases when he grows up, no matter if his father and I blow our tops for whatever reason — even and especially if we play the utang na loob card in a key moment of a desperation.

Utang na loob, or debt of gratitude, is not a real reason for anyone to forgo the life they want to live. Doing favors for each other out of goodwill, I totally understand. But doing things out of a certain unspoken indebtedness — wherein guilt is more potent than goodwill — is something that I find bothersome, especially when it concerns parent and child.

Granted that I did not come from the most stable of backgrounds. My father was an angry and abusive man, the main reason why I cannot dub my childhood “happy.” And it would make sense for me not to feel indebted to someone who went out of his way to physically and verbally hurt his own daughter (and sons, and wife) on a regular basis. As far as I’m concerned, and as anyone with the faintest concept of self-respect should know, whatever my family says about utang na loob in his regard is null and void. In fact, I estranged myself from him when I was 13 and have never looked back.

But my mother is a different case. She’s done a monumental amount for me. For one thing, she was the main breadwinner, and would always go on overtime at the office in order to support a five-person family. Her sacrifices were all for us; in fact, rooting through sales bins at dinky department stores for the rare pair of semi-decent shoes was her idea of splurging for herself.

Moreover, she endured my estrangement from my father despite her personal conviction that sticking to one’s family is the Right Thing to Do. She did her best to respect (or at least try to respect) my decision — not to mention grin and bear the endless prodding of other relatives as to my whereabouts and mental state — while I lived apart from them in my own little hole in the family compound (and, later on, in my own apartment). I did what I had to do, and while she didn’t like what I did — and yes, for a while nagged at me and berated me for it — she eventually let me be. And for that I am grateful, because it has led me to live a life that is entirely mine.

Everyone should do everything they can to live their own lives as well, and not the lives expected of them. What’s the point of being our own sentient beings if we can’t even choose what to do with ourselves? Everyone should be able to stick with what they believe in and act on that belief (provided, of course, that this does not involve building a money-making mega-church, strapping bombs to your belly, and other dangerous, deceitful, and destructive acts).

Everyone should want a child not for their own selfish purposes, but for allowing this child to experience the awesomeness that is life, and in the best, most positive manner possible, at that. Last I heard, love is not related to suppression, or blind obedience, or guilt. Last I heard, parenting was about raising a child, not strapping one down to the ground. (Suffice it to say that the RH Bill can bring us one step closer to a society that understands this.)

My mother can ask of me a whole host of things in return for all she’s done, but compromising the paltry few decades of consciousness I have in the first place — when I could be doing something that I feel is actually worthwhile, such as being a nomad, or an active freethinker, or a nomadic active freethinker — is not one of them. Being in a situation that would prevent me from writing the above missive to my future child is not one of them.

Once again, there is only one belief that I will impose on my own child, and it is that he owes me nothing.


The Filipino Freethinkers — Not Eating Babies since 2009

2 02 2011

“We don’t eat babies.”

I’ve been hearing this a lot since I joined the Filipino Freethinkers last May. And it’s true—the Philippines’s largest and most active group of atheists, agnostics, humanists, liberalists, deists, liberal theists, and whatever other -ists there are that think reason, science, and secularism totally pwns authority, tradition and dogma, has yet to partake of sweet infant flesh. We’re nice people. We donate blood and hold Wii parties. But of course, in a country that considers widespread Catholicism as a PR hook, convincing some people that we’re not a cult and, on the contrary, are purveyors of logic and individuality can seem hard.

Fortunately, attending just one of our bi-weekly meet-ups is enough to quell most qualms. When my boyfriend and I first went, starved as we were of fellow godless folk, we did have some doubts about these men and women huddled in a circle at Starbucks Shangri-La, listening so earnestly to each other, looking like an initial herding of pyramid schemers or a prayer meet with better clothes. But the moment we approached, they didn’t make a big scene, didn’t pat us on the back, tell us we’d come to the right place or any of that lovey dovey crap. We newcomers did have to share our beliefs or lack thereof and how we got to that point, but that was as cult-y as it got, and you have to admit it was necessary.

The rest of the meet-up—and all meet-ups since—was spent in discourse. Topics are very varied:  the ethics of having sex with friends, being a grammar Nazi, nationalism, genetic engineering, starting steps for virgin vegans, etc. And as we are a motley crew—a mix of college students, game developers, photographers, ex-evangelists, doctors, family men, businessmen, thespians, government employees, journalists, call center agents, professors and bums, each of whom harbor unique sets of principles—things can get rowdy. If shameless intellectual masturbation is your deal, then each Freethinker meet-up is the circle-jerk of your dreams. We don’t talk about pushing nuns into traffic or setting mosques on fire. We’re nerds, for the most part, and as harmless as they come.

Nonetheless, as we are all beneath the same freethought umbrella, we do have shared concerns, such as the passing of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, and are prone to act on them. This is where the Freethinkers leapt from being just a bunch of people I liked hanging out with, to the first opportunity I’ve ever had to stand up for something and not feel like I was shitting myself. I was never one for causes; I was the type who would rather blog about her period than the latest crummy thing in the news. But since joining the Freethinkers, I finally felt like I had a damn good reason to speak up about dire issues, which I didn’t use to have since neither god nor nation got me off.

I now commence with the inevitable reference to Carlos Celdran’s Sacrilege Spectacular. I was bedridden with fever the day some Freethinkers and members of like-minded groups trooped over to the CBCP and Carlos’s cell with their placards. As bad as I felt for not being there with them, I was also stoked about what was happening. Here was a tangible moment of conflict, and I was finally raring to support the side I was on instead of thinking that there was no point in getting riled up when there was Season 2 of Party Down to deal with. I didn’t give a fuck if others thought I was just some Carlos crony, promoting Damaso shirts on FaceBook because that’s what the cool kids were doing. I don’t blame them; I was obviously apathetic a few months back, so people who had known me longer would have had to do a double-take.

But the fact is that I learned a lot from my Freethinker friends about being a more vocal individual. These were people who had definite opinions, had the confidence to air them, and were principled enough to listen to others’ thoughts and support or counter those views civilly and within reason. In case anyone was wondering, that’s a good thing. And I wanted to be part of a good thing.

So, despite any hype or hot air that may have pervaded the RH brouhaha, it was apparent to me that the Freethinkers were being the real deal, and that I had every reason to be a more active person. We all wanted that RH bill passed because it made sense, and would bring about positive change. We don’t tolerate bullshit, and believe nobody else should.

I joined the Freethinkers about a month after I realized I was an atheist. (Side note: Nobody decides to take up atheism, much less try it out. Atheism is something you arrive at through rational inquiry; it occurs to you that there is no legitimate proof that higher beings exist. Simply put, you just don’t believe in the existence of a god or gods. That’s it.) I had never been a “spiritual” person, much less a religious one. I went through the motions—all girls’ Catholic school, paralyzing fear of rebultos, being a (restless, whiny) bead in a living rosary—and found no sense in them, or in any form of spirituality for that matter, growing older with no dependency on prayer or gratitude to a higher being. But I didn’t really bother labeling myself a non-believer. I just didn’t care then, up until I decided to read up about atheism—intrigued as I was because of my non-believing boyfriend—and realized that I had no problem whatsoever with what the likes of Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens were saying, and that the stuff I’ve read in defense of god and religion just didn’t cut it. I went through similar thought processes and made similar observations as atheist authors, but it was just that I was too apathetic to make any conclusions in the past. So there. That’s when I realized that—BAM—yup, there is no god, and I’m an atheist, yeehaw. Such certainty made me feel awesome, and I wasn’t even craving for an epiphany.

Needless to say, I wasn’t in search of a support group. I certainly didn’t join the Freethinkers to feel better about being an atheist—it was definitely the opposite of being a burden—or to get further assurance that god is as real as my Worldwide, Genre-Spanning Literary Success. I didn’t need anyone else to be an atheist. Nonetheless, I became very curious as to what other atheists living in the Philippines were like, and what they were doing about the fact that most everyone around them had at least some fleck of faith when they didn’t. So when I joined the Freethinkers, not only were these curiosities sated, but I learned far more than I ever expected to.

As I’ve mentioned, not all Freethinkers are atheists. Absolutely anyone can be a Freethinker, as long as they understand that every single thing is liable to be questioned or scrutinized, as long as whatever sacred cows they’ve tended in the past have already been slaughtered into scrumptious patties. Freethinking is not about giving the finger to faith. It is about using reason and science to get to your own conclusions about anything. Since meeting the Freethinkers, I learned that my atheism was just a stepping stone towards a far more significant personal belief: that thinking before speaking (or doing, or anything) would do all of us a big, fat load of good.

In the past, writing about religion and gods this directly would have made me incredibly nervous. In fact, this essay is my first time to put into print a sentence as controversial or potentially infuriating as There is no god without muffling it with disclaimers. But I’m cool with it. I thought before I wrote, and know for a fact that I can defend my views neatly and objectively.

If you’ve ever been made to take up Theology in college and had to explain the holy trinity with a straight face for finals, I bet you’d know how much better I’ve been feeling now. And if you don’t, it sure wouldn’t hurt to think about it.

A Very Happy 2nd Anniversary, Filipino Freethinkers! I’m stoked to be part of such a warm, passionate, and blindingly attractive group of people.

Mandatory First Brazilian Wax Survival Blog Entry

7 01 2011

Disclaimer: This entry is not recommended for humans under 18, and blood relatives of the author. Especially the latter, because it will be gross and awkward the next time I see them.

So I got my nether region waxed the other day, and it was a horrible, horrible experience. I would like to think of myself as impervious to all kinds of pain, including tattooing, dysmenorrhea and common social situations, but hot damn, getting waxed down there is really something else.

I’d been wanting to get waxed for quite a while now in order to feel cleaner and keep my man-slave at bay, but I finally got around to it only upon learning how common the practice had become. I figured, if most girls could do it (and I imagined most girls being pansy-assed compared to me), then I could do it.  I strutted into that waxing salon yesterday like I’d lived there all my life.

The fact of the matter is, however, getting your pubes ripped out from the roots with a clump of wax is getting your pubes ripped out from the roots with a clump of wax. The whole experience was anti-intuitive: giving away your hard-earned cash to feel incredible pain over and over and over again. To give all of you a clearer idea, my thoughts during the actual process went something like this:


I was supposed to just rest my thigh against the waxer’s torso to steady myself, but I was practically kneeing her over and over again from the pain. I was clutching the towel so hard, I could feel my nails digging into my palm through the terrycloth. I tried staring at one blank spot on the ceiling, tried going through my repository of happy thoughts, but nothing. I was tearing up; I was gasping.

The waxer cheerily informed me that I had bled a little.

I was dazed when we were done, stumbling out of the salon and plodding aimlessly around the mall like a solider told that the war was over. I guess a Brazilian’s also akin to losing your virginity; there’s that moment after when all you can think of is Thank god, THAT’S over.

I know I’m coming off as melodramatic, and I know the waxings will get less and less painful from month to month due to finer hairs, but things like these need to be vented, yo. They need to be documented for, well, posterity. Something to calm me and/or future spawn down the next time one of us gets new ink or has a trike run over her leg.

Of course, I will do my best to make this a regular thing, nonetheless. There’s no denying that the finished product is very, very beneficial. I had good reasons for going and these reasons still stand. It’s just a bitch is all. And suffice it to say that my man-slave owes me big time. I’m thinking about 3-4 dinners-on-him per month/waxing should do just fine.

So hi, everyone. My name is Margie, and I’m a (smooth and supple) pansy-ass.

(Image from

Season’s Gratings

22 12 2010

My co-slaves in the corporation I work for are a generous bunch, people who can’t celebrate their birthdays without feeding everyone within a 1-mile radius of their office with rudimentary birthday grub. And when the Christmas season comes ’round, their propensity for generosity kicks into high gear, and I spend the two weeks prior to the 25th watching my desk disappear beneath a pile of presents. I literally just sit at my desk and get one gift after another, and while getting lots of free shit may seem awesome to some, it is quite bothersome for me since many of the gifts I get are neither that nice nor useful, and are from people I barely know.

Apart from the four other people I work with in my department, I barely interact with anyone else. Regardless, mere acquaintances still bother to grab some random trinket, wrap it in paper, write my name on a card, and have the whole thing sent to my little cubicle, which is so much more than I am willing to do for any them. I get stuff from people I’ve only spoken to less than five times the entire year. I get stuff from people I don’t even like. And the thing is, I am unwilling to blow my bonus on useless objects for utterly random humans in honor of the birth of someone who very likely never existed. However, the more I refuse to reciprocate, and the higher my gift pile gets, the more I look like an asshole.

I cannot see the cheer and goodwill in this mad rush to give near-strangers stuff they don’t really want, much less need. I can understand giving gifts to loved ones, whose tastes I am far more familiar with, and who, having spent significant chunks of their lives putting up with me, truly are deserving of a token of my gratitude regardless of the fact that Christmas is a hoax to begin with. But just because I work on the same floor as Person X doesn’t warrant my giving her a cheap bracelet she has barely a desire to wear, or a bar of organic soap that’ll petrify by her sink over the next few months.

I really think it’d be the greater gesture to not give anything: no wasting of packaging materials, no extra shit to lug with you on the commute home, no guilt feelings for not liking these people, and, well, no crappy gifts.

(Pic c/o

LGBT Pride March 2010: Putting the ‘Fun’ Back in ‘Fundie’

6 12 2010

Partners in crime (fighting).

I had the BEST time at my very first LGBT Pride March. I went as Ladyboy Wonder to my man-slave’s Buttman, and bore the special rainbow version of the Filipino Freethinkers logo for the length of the parade.

I brought along my purple multi-setting vibrator (which I got for free; it’s a long story), and it was put to good use by several FF’ers, most notably Cy the Purple Pimp Excommunicator…

So hawt.

Red the Pedo-Priest (who is with Garrick, our resident Molestee, in the photo below)…

Who's your padre?

…and Bea, our Vicar with a Vag.

"Yes, I have a vag!"

Our token slogan for the march was the mind-numbingly stupid (and therefore strangely intelligent) “Salt is a sin!” We chanted this and other slogans most especially upon meeting the Christian fundamentalists — a.k.a. ‘fundies’ — parked on every other corner with their anti-LGBT gear.

The pun run.

Photo-bombing the fundies, in fact, was the highlight of the march. Never have I been so excited to see an ultra-conservative. We’d hurtle towards them screeching in glee, ready to be photographed with our counter-protest signs, eager to cause a kerfuffle and drown out their hate speech.

We made several awesome photo-bombs, but the photo below is arguably the most awesome of the lot:

Family portrait.

It pains me to note that the streetkids were thrilled at the sight of Buttman and could not give a fig about his Ladyboy Wonder, but that’s okay, because our gaysome twosome made for excellent photo ops regardless:

With Carlos!

With Sailormoon!

And with Wonderwoman!

We even won ‘Best Theme’ at the end of the march, which was very awesome, albeit pretty confusing, since we didn’t really have a theme in mind, unless fundie-spotting is a theme. Or Pedo-Priest. Or Purple Pimp. Or Gay Comic Book Heroes.

I look forward to next year’s march. Apart from the endless hi-jinks, I truly enjoyed showing my support as an Ally of the LGBTs, and not just because I’m part-Babaeng Bakla, part-One-of-the-Boys.

Salt is a sin, brothers and sisters! Salt is a sin!

(Photo 1 by Steve Gelano; other photos by JM Aguilar)

Mandatory Post-Epic Party Blog Entry

1 12 2010

That's a lotta talong.

At one point in last Saturday’s Excommunication Party, I had to hand Carlos Celdran a bag full of sex paraphernalia as a prize for trumping two other participants in the Talong-Condom speed-sheathing game. I believe he sheathed 10 talongs in condoms in less than a minute, which is likely the number to beat in today’s vegetable speed-sheathing circles.

By the end of the night, I had a sense that the Filipino Freethinkers had succeeded in showing and drawing further support for the RH Bill and a secular society, and a huge bag of condom-covered eggplants.  It was that kind of party.

Obviously, the start of our modeling careers.

Dirty games aside, we had a photo/graffiti wall; a special confession booth where you could have your rants/lamentations on the RH brouhaha filmed; a special performance from improv group SPIT; a viewing of the now-infamous Satan, Get Out! video; speeches from Celdran, Akbayan Party List Reps Kaka Bag-ao and Walden Bello, Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines’ National Chair Beth Angsioco, comedienne Juana Change, and fellow FF’er Dr. Sylvia Claudio; the presence of the alarmingly pretty Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel…

Tonight, we dine in hell.

…the recreation of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, heathen-style…

I saw the sign.

…and the Manifesto in Support of Choice, the most awesome piece of paper I’ve ever had to sign thus far.



I throw my panties at my fellow FF’ers! I have never been more proud to be part of a bunch of blasphemous bastards, and I look forward to our future shenanigans in the fight against Bullshit. Yeehaw!

(Photos 1, 3 and 5 by Karlo Espiritu, Photo 2 by JM Aguilar, and Photo 4 by Tania Arpa)

Saturday Night Live [SUPER UPDATED]

22 11 2010

Last Saturday evening, pro-RH advocates the Filipino Freethinkers and Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines attempted to attend an anti-RH mass and lecture at the Manila Cathedral, only to be kept from entering and eventually driven away by several irate anti-RH Catholics. (Watch the video above and click on this link for further details/really mean, medieval pronouncements.)

While I wasn’t outright offended by all that anger chucked our way (this wasn’t the first time I’ve been called Satan without irony), I felt extremely unsettled hearing these ordinary-looking men and women resort to such an archaic, almost comic, manner of showing their disapproval of us. I was, to a point, frightened by their behavior. That was the closest I’ve come thus far to a fundamentalist going apeshit, and it was more aggravating than I’d expected. It must be noted that we didn’t talk back and, on the contrary, tried to calm them down.

One of the many undocumented highlights of that night was when the policeman who ushered us away admitted that his wife was on the Pill. You go, Mamang Pulis! 🙂 Also, here’s a link to a scanned copy of the ridiculous brochures the anti-RH folk were handing out on the church steps.

SUPER UPDATE: Here’s a video containing even more, unseen highlights from that night, including the bits where the anti-RH folk were at their most intolerant/batshit crazy, as well as a corresponding statement from the Freethinkers dispelling all the whitewash Pro-Life Philippines and the CBCP have been spreading around since.

Watch the video through to the end, and you’ll see us being heckled by the fundamentalists in a myriad ways, including telling us to tell our mothers to abort us.

You sure know your irony, fundie dudes and dudettes. Let’s totally chill at Cubao X.