Is the Filipino language even as gender-neutral as we think it is?

Filipino as a language, regardless of the gender-neutral words we take pride in, continues to perpetuate harm against women, especially when they are transgender, nonbinary, or gender non-conforming. Filipino as an identity, regardless of our good intentions, sometimes risks the erasure of precolonial identities such as that of the Bangsamoro and the Lumad who seek to assert their right to ancestral land and self-determination within the Philippine state. To identify one’s self as a Filipino and to speak the language requires a constant interrogation of our shared histories, while confronting the links between our personal privilege and another’s oppression.

Is ‘Bagani’ culturally appropriating indigenous peoples?

The great tragedy is that we call ourselves Filipino only because we no longer know how else to name ourselves, our identity bound to a name of a king we never saw. Meanwhile, those who continue to take pride in their indigenous roots are forced to fight for their land and language — their existence defined by the defense of their local culture and traditions, and assertions of truth that are only heard when rendered in the nation’s official, but no less foreign, language.

Mamasapano, three years after the tragedy

"When you go through conflict, it stays with you like a nightmare. For the rest of your life, whenever you hear gunfire, the first instinct is to run even if you don't know where you're going. Fear is always the first instinct," she says. But things have changed, she says. The most remarkable change, she shares, is that her old high school, which used to be made of sawali, is now housed in a new school building funded by the regional government and constructed back in 2016.

On untranslatable words from Philippine languages

My birth certificate affirms my Filipino citizenship, and I have always imagined myself as someone fluent in Filipino. But after relocating far from Manila, it didn’t take long for me to realize that my idea of Filipino — both as a language and an identity — is more construct than reality, and is far from being whole. Living in the Bangsamoro and struggling to speak in languages I am yet to learn has taught me that there was so much more to learn about myself and my country. Speaking in Filipino comes with a lifelong process of learning and becoming, and it can only be limited by our refusal to embrace the life and language of people and places still unknown to us.

Not a history of Filipinos, but histories

To say never forget and never again is to recognize Martial Law as a distant memory that we refuse to relive – an understandable sentiment, but is one that is also mildly unmindful of the fact that elsewhere Martial Law was never distant nor has it ended completely. As the fear of Martial Law going beyond the bounds of Mindanao builds, there is a need to assess where our sincere concern for those at the periphery ends and where our self-interest begins. Once Martial Law is lifted in Mindanao, will we still care about the issues that plague the south or will some of us go back to living our separate lives?

On Senator Sotto, sexist language and how we can resist it

Let us speak out against those who speak of women, especially single moms, with prejudice. Let us call out gender biases when it comes to views on parenting roles, and remind each other that it takes a village to raise a child. Let us fight and change the system that makes single parenthood all the more difficult, instead of condemning single parents and leaving them to fend for their children’s lives and rights themselves. Together, let us assert our right to quality healthcare, livable wages, and decent housing. If we feel so strongly about the rights and dignity of single parents, let's take part in the collective struggle for rights and dignity for all.

To end a struggle: The fall of Camp Abubakar and what remains

It has been sixteen years since the fall of Camp Abubukar, but the struggle did not end with the dismantling of camps and death of Moro revolutionaries. As long as there is a refusal to confront the truths of our shared history, as long as there is a failure to understand and celebrate our differences, and as long as there is a child who longs to belong in a country she calls home, the struggle will not end. The struggle never ends for the oppressed.