On the Love Debate: A Think Piece

It’s been less than a week since that Supreme Court ruling, and the challenges are just beginning. Texas governor Greg Abbott has allowed their court clerks to reserve the right to refuse providing marriage licenses to same sex couples, citing the prioritization of free speech and practice of religion. Conservatives and religious Americans are posting their letters online, and photos proclaiming ‘Marriage never changed’ are slowly going viral.

As much as I hope and pray that things will change for the better, it looks like it’s going to take some time before that becomes a realistic possibility. Some of these conservatives seem to think the worst of the LGBTQ community, with certain individuals proclaiming that they’ll be willing to serve jail time just to protest against the ruling which allows same sex marriage in all 50 American states.

For this particular piece, I’ve decided to break things down, rebutting particular assertions I’ve heard of or read about with my own arguments.

The Supreme Court is condoning sin by allowing homosexuals to marry. They are violating the sanctity of marriage. 

One of the best things I learned from my Theology classes is that some aspects of the Bible were written in a particular context. An example of which being Paul’s writings on marriage and how men should treat their wives. I can’t remember the exact verses, but what I do remember is that Paul’s writings on that particular topic were written during a time when people believed that the world was ending, thus the reason behind some of the things he said.

There are supposedly specific verses in the Bible which explicitly state that homosexual acts are sinful, thus those commit these acts are considered sinners. Is there a possibility that those words could also have been written during a particular time period? Could they also lack a certain context and could people simply be too literal with regard to interpretation?

Okay, even I know that sounds impossible. Maybe that really was Jesus’ point– he did after all preach marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Then again, is marriage a social structure that is exclusively Catholic/Christian? In the US, are the majority of LGBTQ individuals even Catholic/Christian? If that’s not the case, then why is it that these religious individuals feel that the Supreme Court’s idea of marriage should align with their definition of what marriage is– are they even the majority?

What happens to the members of the LGBTQ community who are devout Catholics? I haven’t read accounts of people like that, but honestly, I feel bad for them. I can’t possibly imagine what it could be like to try your very best to practice your religion while at the same time feel a certain way towards your lover. If these people believe that marriage is a way of showing their love for one another, but feel as though they are committing sin by marriage, what will happen to them?

Constitutional Conundrum: The Texas Case 

I mentioned earlier that Texas governor Greg Abbott has encouraged court clerks in Texas to reserve the right to refuse to provide marriage licenses for same sex marriages, citing the prioritization of free speech and the practice of religion.

This sounds like future fodder for rhetorical arguments and collegiate level debates. Yet, to be honest, it’s a double-edged sword. If Abbott didn’t say this, court clerks in Texas will be forced to issue marriage licenses even if they personally didn’t believe in same sex marriage. But considering he’s already said it, he may have just instantly made things difficult for same sex couples in Texas.

Let’s check back in a few months or so to see whether this will indeed prove to be a hindrance for same sex couples in Texas. They can always marry in other states if it becomes an issue!

At the end of the day, R-E-S-P-E-C-T. 

We all have our thoughts, our beliefs and our opinions. Although it will prove to be a constant challenge not to voice our disagreement to how people are, we don’t always have the right to impose our thoughts and opinions on others.

One of the main reasons conservative Catholics in the US (and even in the Philippines) are voicing their disagreement towards this ruling is that they feel as though they are being imposed on. They believe that their disagreement toward same sex marriage will end up becoming illegal and they will be imprisoned because they are against what is now the law of the land.

But is that really what this ruling was all about?

There was nothing in that ruling that tarnished the structure of traditional marriage (I know conservatives don’t agree). From what I read, they simply allowed LGBTQ couples the same liberties provided to traditional couples. Forgive me, conservatives, but that very much sounds like a move towards equality to me.

Yet, this does not give members of the LGBTQ community the freedom to perform acts that disrespect traditional symbols of Christianity. I was very much disturbed by the photo that some of the people on my newsfeed were sharing which depicted people dressing up as Jesus and kissing. The display of love between this two women is a liberty they deserve, but they should have been more respectful with regard to the way they dressed themselves.

This brings me to my main point: respect.

As much as both sides may disagree with the belief systems upheld by the other, at the end of the day, we should respect each other’s thoughts and beliefs. If people disagree with same sex marriage, allow them to disagree. If they agree, then they agree.

Although, I draw the line with offense. I draw the line with those conservatives berating homosexuals and regarding them as lesser beings because of their orientation. I draw the line with senators and personalities who impose their beliefs on others and berate them when they refuse to agree. I draw the line with liberals who berate people of faith because they refuse to accept same sex marriage because of their beliefs.

I personally disagree with those against same sex marriage. I have made that very clear in the previous paragraphs. But in the name of free speech, free religion, and freedom as a whole, I respect you and your beliefs. Yet, I implore you not to bring other people down just because they don’t believe what you believe. You, my friend, have no right to impose on them.

Postscript: I apologize if my previous opinion pieces have been angled in such a way that they are steered toward pushing a particular individual or group of individuals to behave in a particular way. I believe we all are free to believe what we should believe, and it is discourse, and not imposition, that is the answer. [Thank you, Philo 101-102!] 

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Culinaria: Musings on the Food World

Most of these thoughts were born out of spending my days (and sometimes, my nights) at my new favorite place.

A Place for the Middle Market

Why is it that most food magazines in the Philippines are targeted mainly to married women or mothers? I mean, I get how cooking is a role traditionally attributed to women, but times (and people) ultimately change.

Where is the food mag for the millennial or the twentysomething culinary student? Also, why is it that our culinary discourse seems to be limited to recipes, tips, or restaurant reviews? Filipino cuisine is so rich in history, and we’re missing out on so much by not digging deeper, and looking for the context behind how dishes came to be, how flavor profiles were built, and the overall story of our cuisine.

I’m still waiting for the day when someone will follow in the footsteps of the late great Doreen Fernandez in order to revitalize the archiving of our food story. We are at this point in our history when people are beginning to see the richness of our food culture, and yet there is no one there to chronicle these milestones.

Wake up, Philippine food industry, and write your story. Chronicle your origins, and your progression, your flavor building blocks, and the stories behind your flavor profiles. Your highs, your lows, your bests, and your worsts… believe me, ours is a story worth telling.

Dinner Table Dining Buddies

A favorite question that Bon Appetit magazine posts to its celebrity guests: “Five people you would invite to dinner, and why?” [non verbatim].

My answer:

Ming Tsai, so we could talk Asian food and he could teach me about fusing Asian and French flavors.

Mario Batalli, so we could talk food history and I could pick his brain for pasta and pizza dough secrets

Masaharu Morimoto, because he seems like a rather warm fellow and I’m sure he would share some good stories!

Ina Garten, because she is my comfort food spirit animal

Bobby Flay, because he loves spicy food and grilling!

So, in essence, four Iron Chefs and a Food Network icon. HECK YES.

A Righteous Read 

Thank you Vogue, for keeping Jeffrey Steingarten’s articles on your online webpage. There’s a reason this man is multi-awarded and a bestselling writer. Looking for a witty brand of warm humor mixed with pragmatic wit? Jeffrey’s your man. Key articles to check out are his “Cooking with Pot” piece and his story on going cold turkey with good old gluten.

Best-O Resto Bucket List 

I have read about a ton of restaurants both here and abroad, and I admit I’ve pined for some. Examples include Jiro’s sushi bar in Japan (the subject of the deliriously delicious documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi), Nobu, Noma, Aubergine, Mesa Grill, and perhaps any restaurant owned by David Chang.

A detailed list will follow in one of my succeeding entries.

#LoveWon: A Slices Special!

Rainbows have gone viral.

In celebration of the Supreme Court ruling that has allowed same sex marriage in all 50 American states, the internet has exploded with shear happiness. Everyone from websites to brands to individuals are sharing the symbol loud and proud, and the world is praising America for a move towards fostering equal rights in modern society.

I, for one, am proud of this country as well. Kudos to you, USA, for making this historic decision in favor of your fellowmen. You’ve made a world of mistakes in the past, and just like any other country, you still continue to make those mistakes. But this… this was one of your better choices.

I’d love to say that I’m here just to be happy, and stay positive for the state of LGBT life in the US. But I want to be realistic here.

The law is one thing, implementation is another. This bill had its share of detractors, enough to fill more than one Buzzfeed article with a series of ‘angry’ tweets that threatened moving to places like Canada and Australia. Heck, America’s version of the CBCP didn’t look too happy about the ruling, either.

What I’m trying to say is that yes, this is indeed a victory for the LGBTQ community in the US, but I’m sure they are aware that challenges will follow. People will say things, and people will try to do things that will change that ruling. Even if these people don’t succeed, there will be those that will continue to discriminate against these people despite this ruling.

I hope, and pray, for the sake of good ‘ol Uncle Sam and his people, that things will not get worse… that this will be the jumping off point to better things. That people like the Duggars or those American bishops will just choose to respect the members of the LGBTQ community, instead of berating them. What they do may be against your belief system, but they’re not trying to directly affect you. Nor are they telling you how to even live your lives. Respect them, and leave them alone.

MAJOR POSTSCRIPT 

I haven’t read of any updates yet on that Veejay Floresca story, nor have we heard anything more about the progress of the Jennifer Laude case.

I wonder if the Philippines will ever become open to same sex marriage, but I sure hope that we can at least increase our tolerance and respect for the members of the LGBTQ community.

PRATT AND OTHER STORIES: The “Jurassic World” Review

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t exactly jumping up and down when I found out that the Jurassic saga was far from over. I mean, I was perfectly happy when we finished off with the good ‘ol Spinosaurus and the return of good ‘ol Allan Grant. In fact, the Universal Studios J Park rides seem to conclude properly enough.

But people need money, and movies need to survive, and I guess that’s probably why Jurassic World exists. I could be wrong, I could be right… we’ll never really know.

Enough about the preludes and let’s get to the meat of the thing.

Premise: Jurassic Park has become ‘Jurassic World’, an almost meta incarnation of Universal Studios meets the Ancient Zoo. In this alternate universe, dinosaurs are as big a bore as elephants, triceratops are the cows of the dino kingdom and all of this has become perfectly normal. In a quest to top their previous offerings, the JWorld scientists create a hybrid dinosaur aptly named as the Indominous rex, meant to be an attraction that rivals the iconic T-Rex.

Bryce Howard of Mad Men fame plays Jurassic World’s white-wearing workaholic Op Manager, while Chris Pratt stars as the ‘Raptor Whisperer’, a Navy trained behavioral expert turned dino zookeeper. B.D. Wong returns to reprise his role as Jurassic scientist Henry Wong, while newcomers Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkin play this generation’s Tim and Lex.

THOUGHTS

On the Players:   Pratt comes off as the lifeblood of Jurassic World, but he doesn’t even show up until twenty minutes into the movie. Dallas Howard’s character waves the feminist flag proud with her heel-running skills, but let’s be real: many of her traits are unfortunately quite negative (workaholic equals automatic bitchy? really?). Some of us probably spent more time debating whether she really did have heels on during most of those scenes (I like to think she did).

Overall, I’m disappointed with the female presence in this movie. Surely, the previous ones never did do much justice to the woman, but they always had a substantial female to really round out the cast (Ellie Sattler, Sara Harding…). This one did have its share of female characters, but none seemed to really fill that same role. Besides Howard, the other women that show up play supporting parts that don’t give them much work (Lauren Lapkus as the object of Jake Johnson’s affection, the unnamed girls that teenaged Zach pines for..). I was kind of hoping Gray could be a girl! Girls can like dinosaurs too, you know.

Forgive me if I end up sounding a bit too.. feminist here, but this has always been one of my biggest gripes with the Jurassic Park franchise. Hey, at least they made their share of changes… I guess?

Now, back to the rest of the players:

Chris Pratt brings his Star Lord charm to the dino world and it’s fun. Not since Ian Malcolm has this franchise been graced with a character that mixes likability with a very unorthodox brand of badass-ery (is that even a word?). The best part about Pratt is that despite his incredible post-Parks makeover, he’s still the same guy– and man, are we lucky to have him.

This generation’s Tim and Lex are an eerie reflection of what the youth has become. Millennial Zach spends too much time on his phone, he’s got earphones on, he checks girls out. I first dismissed him off as a very one dimensional character, but then reflecting on his characteristics, I began to notice that he’s been molded to reflect a very timely picture of just what teens are like today.

Gray, on the other hand, seems like he’s been stuck in the nineties. Kids like him grew up on iPhones and colored on iPads, and yet he’s been made to be the idealistic dino lover with no gadget in hand. Remind me again how that’s possible?

On the Plot:  As someone who grew up on the first three Jurassic Park movies, I had come to accept the conclusion that the theme park wasn’t gonna happen. Apparently, Jurassic World is the Jurassic Park’s Terminator Genisys, I guess?

It was nice to see something come alive, and the throwbacks to the nineties movies were.. well placed. But there really wasn’t much meat that made the story something worth looking out for.

On the Dinos: Several notable dinos make their cameos in theme park scenes, but the stars of the show have now become the raptors. From kitchen-stalking big heads, they’re now domesticated dino warriors willing to fight for their ‘buddy’ Owen (Chris Pratt).

The Indominous Rex is meant to be the big baddie in this movie, but what’s there to him (or her?) Nothing more than hybrid DNA and an apparent ability to become invisible? NAAAH.

PSA to those that haven’t seen the film: just watch for the dino battles and you’ll see the dinosaurs that deserve to be watched.

OVERALL: Throwbacks, Chris Pratt, and some badass (now on the side of good) ancient reptiles? Jurassic World is no campy camp fest, but an okay film sprinkled with the right proportions of pseudo plot and well placed CGI.  Three out of five!

Let Them Eat Cake: A Slices of Life Full Pager

Let’s be honest, folks: slices are not enough to even encapsulate the number of talk-worthy current events that deserve a thought or two from yours truly. As such, I’ve opted for a full blown, full pager– something that’s less reminiscent of a piece of cake, but rather several cake slices, sold separately, yet put together (excuse the restaurant parlance). Here. We. Go!!!

1. Dastardly Duggar (s)

[I was going to put “Dirty Duggar” as a section title, but I felt even that seemed a bit too.. .dirty.]

The eldest child of  TLC mega clan the Duggars recently admitted to having sexually abused his younger sisters, opting to resign from a major position in a highly conservative group  (the name eludes me). News of this startling revelation was followed by TLC’s decision to pull reruns of the Duggar show 19 and Counting from the air.

An even more dastardly development in this story is the emergence of an excerpt from the home schooling module followed by the Duggar family, which depicted a very traditionalist solution to dealing with sexual abuse in the household.

Verdict: This story creeped me out big time, and reminded me a lot about that headline a few years back that talked about one of those ‘cults’ in the southern part of the US. It also made me feel quite bad for the rest of the nice people south of the US, who are most likely not this way, but are negatively stereotyped thanks to popular headlines about people like them [think how Muslims are discriminated against because of 9/11].

I’ve decided to split the next few paragraphs into sections, titled based on the subtopic I wish to talk about.

Victim Blaming.  Culture is no bargaining chip- abuse is, and will forever be, morally wrong. Another thing that will forever stay wrong no matter what is blaming the victim for being victimized. Victim blaming is so much worse in this context because it involves the culprit’s own family members, and the reasoning utilized here just seems so irrational. Diaper changing? Walking around nude as a child? SERIOUSLY?

Damage Control. Another disturbing subtopic here is how the family dealt with the problem. Keeping sexual abuse as an internal issue just because it happened to be within the family just does not make sense! The trauma that follows sexual abuse can scar a person for life, and yet here this family was, choosing not to take the situation seriously… opting for a solution that would have probably been employed for a less grievous offense.

At the end of the day though, who am I to comment on this situation? I feel as though my lack of parental experience robs me of the credibility to present a sensible opinion as to how the Duggars should have handled this situation. Instead, I present this challenge to actual parents. How would you deal with a situation wherein your own child sexually abused another? Would you turn your child in, or would you deal with it yourself? Feel free to sound off.

Beliefs. The Duggars are one issue, that notorious module on the other hand, is a whole other story. It’s sad to think that somewhere in the world, people still choose to think a certain way, and have amassed enough clout and financial power to actually spread their sometimes negative beliefs to other people.

This is disturbingly similar to how colonization and religion in society work. Influence and power play a big part in one’s capability to impose their ideas on less able individuals, who are pushed to accept certain things because they sometimes don’t have the power or the freedom to diverge.

2. Bye Bye Binay

As you all may know by now, Vice President Jejomar Binay recently resigned from his positions on the Aquino cabinet, citing a number of reasons that led him to become ‘fed up’. He’s going extra viral post-resignation, thanks to a screenshot of the one sentence resignation letter he sent President Aquino, and the subsequent ‘breakup’ jokes that have followed Jejemar’s exit from the troubled camp.

Verdict: It comes as no surprise to me that most of his words angered a lot of people, myself included. To be honest, he’s become more and more annoying in recent months, and he sure as hell is no candidate for president.

But let’s all be realistic here: we can do something about this.

Our Facebook rants and hashtags won’t suffice– 2016 is a clarion call to take action against people like Binay. You don’t like him? don’t just tweet about it! If you’re old enough, register to vote NOW and make yourself heard! Not old enough yet? Use social media to present accurate and fact-checked information that will convince people NOT to vote for Binay! Old enough but have no time to register? Look for information, research, and compile information you believe can convince voters Binay is NOT OUR NEXT PRESIDENT. Better yet, find someone your age who does have the time to register to vote, and encourage him/her to make that happen!

ACTION people– action is the key to change. We have the tools, the brains, and the outspoken nature to make our country go in the right direction. If there’s one thing this discord between Aquino and Binay should teach us, it’s making more rational decisions when selecting the people that will lead us. We have less than a year left to turn things around, and to find out how. Let’s do this.

3. Beep Beep Be……?

As if the transport sector hasn’t failed the Philippines enough, Inquirer is reporting that the LRT 2 plans for tap cards has been INDEFINITELY DELAYED. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, then you’ll probably recall that I did write an open letter to the DOTC a couple of months (or was it a year?) back that detailed my personal frustrations with the transport system. I also did a recent update that discussed the implementation of the fare hike, which greeted commuters after their holiday breaks.

Verdict: I promised then that I would give the DOTC the benefit of the doubt– that maybe, just maybe… our government wouldn’t screw things up yet again. I saw smidgens of progress (is smidgens even the right word for this?) the bathrooms were finished, the turnstiles were getting makeovers… to be honest, I was proud, relieved, happy that things were finally going right.

AND THEN, THIS COMES ALONG.

I’ve run out of chances, DOTC. Mahaba-haba na ang pasensya ko, at ngayon, ubos na. You blocked off almost 90% of the turnstiles in Katipunan alone for this Beep-Beep system, and you’re planning to postpone it? THANKS HA.

At this point I’m not even sure you put the extra money you’re taking from us to good use anymore! Commuters have, and will continue to suffer because you’re clearly NOT DOING SOMETHING RIGHT.

We’ve already done our part by shelling extra cash because you forced it down our throats. How about you do your part now?

4. #LetsGoRegina! 

[I haven’t been updated on the status of this story, and apologize if this insight may seem very much delayed].

A Filipina actress who took to funding site Indiegogo in order to gain financial aid for her education in prestigious arts college Julliard received flack from a number of netizens, who seemed to believe her intention was to take money from less fortunate entities in order to fund her goals of pursuing further education at the famed NY school.

Verdict: It seems to be a habit of ours to latch onto any half-Filipino or Filipina who makes it to reality shows like American Idol or The Voice. People like Bruno Mars, Jessica Sanchez, Vanessa Hudgens, Rob Schneider and Batista are sources of pride for us because of their Filipino heritage.

Is it wrong for us to be proud of these people? Is it wrong for us to be proud of half-Filipinos on the Azkals who didn’t even grow up in the Philippines but play for our country? Of course not.

At the end of the day, whether or not these people were born in our country or not, they are Filipinos by blood, and we have a right to be proud of that.

So my question is: why can’t we afford that same courtesy to this young lady, Regina De Vera, someone born and raised in this country just like you and me? She achieved something extraordinary in the world of high culture, and we, as Filipinos, should be proud of her, shouldn’t we?

Besides, it’s not like she was directly asking people to divert funding from these less fortunate entities just so they could help her. Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo aren’t for those kinds of things. So give this talent a break, and if you don’t have extra cash to contribute, the least you can do is be proud. The arts are far from dead in our fine country, friends.

UPDATE: It looks like she reached her goal! Yay, Regina!!

5. Prejudice Parables

Gun Violence in America, Part XXXXXX

Supremacist teenager Dylann Roof allegedly shot and killed nine African American people in a popular church in the south of the United States, citing their ‘supposed invasion’ of the Americas as the reason behind his crime.

UP Student who breaks GPA record is questioned because of her ethnicity

Biology major Tiffany Uy broke UP’s post war graduation grade record by receiving a near perfect score of 1.004. Netizens struck again, alleging that the student  is CHINESE, and not FILIPINO.

Valkyrie Gets Valkyrie-d for Anti Cross Dressing Policy

High-end nightclub Valkyrie received much flak from the Philippine LGBT community after they allegedly did not allow acclaimed Filipino fashion designer Veejay Floresca into their establishment because of what she was wearing. It was only after Floresca flashed her ‘California’ ID identifying herself as female was she allowed to enter.

Verdict: 

I lumped these three tidbits together because all three, albeit dissimilar upon first read, actually share similar themes. One way or another, they resulted from a certain type of prejudice against a particular group of people.

On Roof: The African Americans have been through enough. From slavery to segregation to cop violence? There is only so much I can say, as even I know the difficulty that comes with dealing with belief systems such as this. All I ask is that somebody in America should go do something about those dimwits who still think it’s okay to have guns lying around. Three words: MENTAL HEALTH TEST, please.

On Ms. Uy: She was born here, she got into UP, she studied hard, and she got the grade. Again, this is a matter of culture and belief system. Why is it that there are still people out there who can’t seem to realize that Chinese Filipinos are Filipinos who are of Chinese descent, and yet they seem so comfortable with the concept of mestizos, who are in essence Filipinos of Spanish descent.

On Ms. Floresca: A lot of the information on this story is still a bit hazy to me. All I believe needs to be said right now is this: fight for your rights, LGBTs!

POSTSCRIPT

I don’t know what it is about Toby Tiangco, but he just seems like a really, really unlikable person. #random