Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Random Thoughts on Refugees

I am fortunate enough to be able to interact with different kinds of migrants here in Australia including refugees. They openly share with me their experiences and thoughts of their new lives in this country.
One time, I told one Sudanese that I do not like celebrating my birthday. She said that I should be happy and I should spend it with my same-sex partner. Then I found out that many refugees do not even know when they were born. The immigration department assign them their birthdates.
I have encountered a lot of Australian-born kids here and they are mostly concerned about getting a car or the latest phone model. On the other hand, the young Sri Lankans I know are very very excited going to school and learning more about this adoptive country. They are very hungry for stimulation because they were practically born and were raised in refugee camps.

Many white Aussies believe that refugees are only taking the former's tax money through Centrelink payments. These pompous people have not even talked to one of these refugees. They do not know how hard refugees work on to get their skills recognised and how racist Australian employers are. Refugees work so hard for their education and when they reach that goal, it is much much harder for them to get employment than their white counterparts.

Very recently, dozens of asylum seekers (including babies and women) perished as their boat smashed against jagged rocks at Christmas Island. Online, many Australians say that these people deserve to die for queue jumping---death for the desire to have a life with dignity.

Afghans tell me there are no queues to jump but there are literally people to run from. Yes, they run to cross borders and not many make it. Only the young make it and that is why most Afghans in Australia are teenagers without their siblings and parents.
Many Aussies do not know that refugees spend not only a few years in refugee camps but decades. Some of them even die in refugee camps where conditions are far from humane. It takes the United Nations years to declare them as genuine refugees and it takes Australia years to accept them.

There are no queues to jump but their own lives to save.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Culture of Speeding

Everyday, Australians hear on the news people getting killed or injured on the streets. Some of them are because of drivers who speed and do burn outs.

South Australian Police always appears on the news saying that they have done everything to stop people from being irresponsible on the road. They have spent so much money on multi-media ads, hardware (i.e. speed cameras) and holiday shifts for police officers. But I do not agree that they have done everything.

I do not feel sorry for those young men and women who have put themselves in mortal danger just for fun. I do not consider it an accident that they are dead and I find it abhorrent that some of them have injured and killed some innocent people just for fun.

Australia has a culture of speeding. There are several car races every year that involve millions of dollars every year. Hence, racers and racing are glamourised and some people consider this subculture as part of the Australian identity.

This is one of the reasons why young men and women think that it is cool to irresponsibly hold the wheel and run over an old neighbor of mine while she was feeding the birds in our park. She is in her 80s and fighting for her life.

But even up to now, there are still people doing burn outs in the same park, right where the old woman laid fighting for her life. I won't be surprised if the same asshole is doing the marks on our roads.

I believe we should end this racing culture. It just kills.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mightier than a pen

I know I have been lazy updating this blog. Being in a relationship, I have become a bit more reserved when it comes to divulging information about myself. That means whatever I reveal online, somehow my partner gets affected whether he shows it to me or not. My current job right now implicitly gives me less freedom on what I can say publicly.

Because of these reasons, it has been very difficult to choose a topic I can post. Since I was very young, my friends have described me as a shit-stirrer. Perhaps, it is true but I am just being completely honest. If my honest remarks has "stirred some shit" then it is not my intention.

But lately, some people who have been visiting this page have posted very angry remarks not only against my ideas but also against me. Some of them even explicitly mentioned that I should go back to the Philippines. I am only human so I am affected.

Honestly (there is that word again), I do not lose sleep over those remarks.

I lose sleep over remarks coming from people who are close to my heart--my family. Some of them have been very upset with my comments against the Catholic church. 

I guess I lose sleep also because this topic is a very sensitive one for me. The feelings I have against this institution are very raw because my awful experiences in this church have contributed to my being. These experiences have resulted to serious decisions I have made in my life.

Will I stop doing what I am doing? I am not really sure. It is like asking me if I can stop feeling.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bullying doesn't stop but handling it better

Discussions on teen suicides are on the rise in the US. Some victims of teen bullying are gay and some are not. Just the same, bullying comes with a lot of pain and with suicide, that pain is shared by the victim's families and friends. In my own experience, bullying may also stretch to the direct victim's family.
I grew up being bullied as well and one of those reasons is because I am gay. My parents wanted the best for me and they thought sending me to a Catholic school would make me a successful person someday. They are aware of what I went through and they have seen me cry so many times after school.
When I was in fifth grade, my classmates would tease me in and out of the classroom. I had to deal with lewd gestures and words and my teachers were aware of it. These teachers did not  punish these kids though maybe because it is hard to explain to the students' parents that their children dislike fags in school.  Gay kids are supposed to be sinners anyway in that Catholic school.
I also had one teacher who threatened me by saying if I turned out to be gay (I could not admit to anyone that I was) in high school, she would hunt me down. That scarred me far deeper than my classmates words.
But that was not the end of it.
In high school, I had one teacher who had a gay son as well. It was very obvious that animosity existed between the teacher and her gay son and she took it out on me. She taught my classmates to turn against me--she ordered them to report to her whenever I acted in a gay manner. She would put me infront of the class and let my classmates tell her of my behavior. I would cry and sometimes, I became inconsolable so she had to take me to the staffroom. On the way from our classroom to the staffroom, she would parade my sobbing self as students from the other classes watched.
This evil teacher said if I did not stop being gay, she would ask my mother to report to class and let her be infront of my classmates. She threatened that my mother would suffer the same abuse that I was receiving. At 32 years of age, I can still say that that was the lowest point in my life.
I thought of suicide so many times in my life. I would cry myself til I could not cry anymore. I did not do it because I knew life has something so much better to offer.
Has the bullying stopped? Hell no! Adults have their subtle little ways of doing it by asking who is the woman in my relationship, by saying that I cannot have children and by saying that my partner is my boyfriend.
But now I know better--they have nothing that I need or want. I, myself, am complete. I am a happy gay man and they can stick their ignorant words in their hell-bound asses.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jogging and big birds

Steven and I are trying to lose weight so we will look fabulous when my family see us in December. Marriage has made us too familiar with each other that looking good has already taken a back seat.

We have returned to the water since the days are becoming warmer and warmer. I have complained about the winter for so long and I am very happy that we have more time to do more things. Swimming no longer stings.

We have been jogging as well. Because of the heavy amount of rained we received last season, the parklands are all green and decorated by red, orange and yellow flowers. We are surrounded by perfumed air as the blooms try to attract the insects and the birds.
And speaking of birds, parklands have exploded with them. Magpies are feeding their young. Ducks and black swans are marching with their young ones. Sulphur-crested cockatoos seem to be heckling each other.

I am not sure if these animals are helping me though because I tend to stop jogging and just gawk at them.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

One week in Canberra

Steven and I have had very fond memories of Canberra since our first visit. I came to this city a couple of years ago and his first visit was five years ago. We vowed to spend several hours in its museums.
We went to the old and new parliament building. Although these places are not really that old, one would feel the significance of these buildings.
The National Museum was a treat for me because it is one of the few places one would learn more about the aboriginals, especially before the arrival of the British. I watched a video of how a goanna is gutted and cooked. I might want to try that if given a chance.
The War Memorial is huge so we spent almost the whole day in it. There were old exhibits and some new ones. The new ones showcase computer animation and very high tech sound systems. I really think this museum should be visited every couple of years.

It was spring so the weather was warm enough to enjoy the flower festival called The Floriade. The layout was a bit confusing but the flowers were really beautiful. We also visited the Botanic Garden where we spent some time flirting joking around.
Finally, we also visited some radio telescopes. I felt compelled to do a Jodi Foster and look for Adolf Hitler on the computer monitor.
I was surprised to like the long road trips but then that wouldn't have been the case if Steven weren't very good company. I can't wait for our next one.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

15 hours to Canberra part 3

More than 10 hours had past and we still had lots of energy. I think it was the anticipation of exciting things to happen during the week. We had friends to see and tons of places to visit. Most of all, we had to see if Canberra is a liveable city for us.

In Narrandera, we stopped for lunch. We were the only customer in an Asian restaurant so it was really eerie. After having sweet and sour pork and beef in black bean sauce, the Caucasian attendant warned us of racism happening in the area. But what surprised me was it was against non-Aboriginals. She said that the whole town was ruled by them and one didn't stand his ground, the Aboriginals would abuse this person.
Of course, it was only one person's opinion. We did bumped into many Aboriginals but we were just ignored.

And so we arrived at Peter's place a few minutes past 6 PM. I felt really happy to spend so many hours in an enclosed space with Steven. Now I can't wait to go back to Adelaide to spend another 15 hours with him.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

15 hours to Canberra part 2

I spent most of the dark hours watching Filipino news and The Amazing Race Asia. It set me up in the mood for travelling. Then we saw the sun slowly creeping in the horizon. Steven was surprisingly alert still.

We stopped a few times for breakfast and for a stretch. We saw a few cars driving from South Australia as well. In Mildura, Victoria (a remote city), the McDonald's attendant had a difficult time understanding me. I think it was not my accent because I pointed at the food that I wanted. I think it was shocking for her to be serving a foreigner.

Plants have changed. We came from a state with tons of yellow Canolas but on the way, the paddocks were painted with purple Salvation Janes.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

15 hours to Canberra part 1

Steven and I have been planning on visiting our friends and the museums in Canberra for quite a while. And we finally made it!

We synchronised our schedules. It was a long weekend and it was also in the middle of a school break.

We made lists of the things that we are going to bring but as you can see on this video (0:45), I left my laptop bag because I was busy documenting this trip. That meant no toothbrushes, no toothpaste, no floss, no contact lens, no hard disk (for my entertainment needs) and no ear phones.

You have to forgive me though as it is my first long road trip.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Philippines vs. the Catholic Church

Yesterday, Carlos Celdran (a popular tour guide in the Philippines) was arrested in a church. He shouted at the priest to stop meddling in politics while he held a placard with "Damaso" written on it.

Padre Damaso is a character in a Filipino novel and he is known for being a deceitful man of Church. He has always been a symbol of the broken religious organization.

Probably, Carlos did this stunt to support the Philippine president's stance on artificial contraceptives. President Noynoy has made it public that condoms, IUDs, pills and injectable contraceptives will be available to the poor Filipinos. As a result, the Catholic Church is threatening to excommunicate him.

But do we the Filipinos care that our president or us will be excommunicated?


This is the beginning of our realization that the church is not infallible and that it exists because of sex and greed. We are realizing that they are at fault that we are poor right now. We are realizing that our beloved country cannot support our humongous population.

There will be more protests like David's. There will be one more Filipino with one more placard. There will be one less contribution during mass.

And there will be more.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teacher Gripes

I have taught ESL in three countries already (the Philippines, Thailand and Australia) but my career has never been as uncertain as when I moved to the last one. It is not taken seriously here.

In the Philippines and Thailand, I was assured that I would have a job at least for a year and these contracts were renewed automatically. It was not a problem planning ahead.
It is true that you need only a university degree in English to be able to teach in those countries legally. You will find a lot of backpacker English teachers who do not care about teaching or improving their skills.

South Australia imposes a very high standard in teaching. One has to have a postgraduate course in Education or Teaching before he/she can be considered. There are also some training certificates required even in Adult Education. That means 1 1/2 years of full-time studies on top of a Bachelors degree.

Once employed, the teacher will enjoy a very good hourly rate but the advantage of teaching in Australia ends there.

Even if you have already spent tens of thousands on your education, you will be employed as a relief or casual teacher not just for the first six months, not just for the first year, not just for the first two years...but for the first five years.
That means no sick pay and no holiday pay. That also means no pay during the school holiday. You will only earn money when you teach and that means you are practically unemployed for almost half of the year.

Since you are a casual worker, you can be sacked any time the employer wants. No wonder there is always a shortage here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Please pick me, Oprah!

I have been a fan of Oprah Winfrey for decades. I have laughed and cried with her. Because of her, I have learned how to take charge of my life.
I lost hope that I would see her in person right from the start because I have a Filipino passport. When I was young, it was impossible for me to get a US visa. Right now, it would still be very difficult for me to get the document.
But she is coming to Australia this December!
Her announcement of an Australian tour for her US audience has given me hope. There is now a chance for me to see her and be in her show. I can be in Sydney and watch her live at the Opera House.
On the same day of her announcement, I emailed her and pleaded that she gives me a ticket. I fervently hope that she picks me.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Jane Elliott

I have come across a few teachers who think out of box and change the world. These are the ones who try to change how we think and how we should approach education. These are people who aspire for equality and see the world in the point of view of a non-white male.

On the other hand, there are some teachers who do not really yearn to change the world but have the world look in a mirror. There is one teacher who gives white people a chance to have a glimpse of how it feels to be non-white. And that is Jane Elliott.

Jane Elliott is a retired American school teacher who has produced several videos of people participating in an experiment that simulates racial discrimination. Some of these experiments last for two days. Some only for a day but these have created profound reactions from the participants and other researchers.

I hope I can participate in this project someday. Or better yet, create a project that is uniquely Australian.

There are a few of these experiments that are accessible via Youtube. I hope you enjoy this sample.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Cost of Life in the Philippines

A few days ago, there was a huge hostage crisis in the Philippines. As a result, 8 foreign nationals are dead and it is still unclear whether they were killed by friendly fire or by the hostage-taker himself. One thing is clear though--the Philippine police force is ill-equipped (tool-wise and tactic-wise) in handling such a crisis.
I am not surprised though that this has happened. People are killed and seriously injured left and right. One of my relatives is a victim of violence as well and after so many years, the criminal is still at large.
If these tourists were Filipino nationals, it wouldn't have received so much attention and coverage because we know it is a reality in the Philippines. Some people hire hitmen. Some people kill with their own hands. People get killed.
Life is cheap.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

32 years old and having Steven

It was my 32nd birthday a few days ago so Steven took me to Murray Bridge to have lunch at the Dundee's Hotel. I know it is too far to drive (almost one hour) for lunch but we have been contemplating on having a seafood buffet ever since we have met. We just had to do it and my birthday was a good excuse.
Steven said that the buffet spread has been downsized since he last visited. They had pork, sea food, beef and lamb. I was ecstatic to eat their perfectly tenderised pork curry and steamed salmon but some items were really awful. The mussels were frozen and the prawns were pretty much average.
After stuffing our faces, we drove to Hahndorf, the first German settlement village in South Australia. The architecture was impressive but some of the small shops were like jewels. We spent a significant amount of time in the leather shop. The items may be expensive but the country ranch feel of the establishment makes it worth the extra dollars. We also went to an African souvenir shop, an aboriginal art dealer and a more conventional art gallery.
I used to dread my birthdays but Steven has been making this day very exciting. He is the best husband in the world!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Target Supports Anti-Gay Politician

I cannot help but admire this woman. We cannot just sit down when we know something is wrong. Please click the video to view it properly.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Condom: Solution to Power Outages & Water Shortage

For several months now, the Philippines has been suffering from long power outages and water service disruptions. The government says it is because the country has not been receiving enough rain. Hence, the rivers are way lower than what they should be. They also reckon that a few typhoons will solve the problem.

As a result, businesses have to decrease their operating hours, residents have to endure hot days without air conditioning or electric fans, people have to travel a long way to get water for their families and public toilets remain filthy and stinky.

It is very convenient to blame Mother Nature and I think there are several reasons for these crises. Ridiculous as it may sound I think overpopulation is one of the culprits. With a population of 20 million, the Greater Manila Area is busting its seams. The age-old infrastructure cannot sustain the number of people anymore.

Stop reproducing, my fellow Pinoys! Keep your dicks in your pants and if you cannot do it, please slap your local priests and put on a condom!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Big L

No, I am not mocking my detractors. This is not about the previous postings.
I am also not into Glee. I might watch it next season though because a Filipino performer (Charice Pempengco) is going to join them.
This means I already got my learner driver's licence in Australia. This is the first step in getting a full one.
After reading the driver's handbook three times and spending several hours practicing online, I took the learner driver's theory test and passed it in one go. In fact, I only got four mistakes!
So I have a new ID card, a log book and another handbook for driving.
Steven handled my first driving lesson and he was very patient with me. Now I know how to identify the gizmos, start the engine and drive off the kerb. I know I have a long way to go and I will definitely piss in my pants at least once.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Spot the Aussie

I usually do not write one diatribe after another but a good friend Antony suggested that I explain the game "Spot the Aussie". I first heard of this game from a young Caucasian Australian who is very close to me. At first, I thought it was a joke but he assured me that this game exists.

I have also heard this game mentioned in some Facebook accounts mentioned on the Anti-Bogan website. In addition, one Urban Dictionary user described "spot the Aussie" as 
a hypothetical game played by White Australians. This comment is used within the white australians [sic] themselves, where they are at a function or location where there is a lack of white australians [sic]. i.e. they think there is [sic] far too many asian [sic], arabs [sic] or africans [sic] etc at the function, even though they are in australia [sic].
Try searching this game on Facebook and you will encounter tons of groups promoting this game. It seems there is a group of this nature in several suburbs or cities. Here are a few examples:

It is a hateful game and I just hope Australians realize that Australians come in different skin colors, sizes, shapes, sexual orientations, clothes (I love Xhosa costumes!), and religions (that includes Islam) and political inclinations. It is an extremely long road ahead but I am sure we are going to get there.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Institutionalized Racism

Caucasian children in Australia are taught very early the game "Spot the Aussie". It involves being in a public place or even watching TV and picking out how many white people are in a crowd. Of course, it operates in the premise that if you do not have white skin then you are not an Aussie.

There are also terms that are widely used by the media and "respected" celebrities like "pom", "wog", "curry muncher", "yank" and so many other words that are unsavory to mention here. Would you believe that Australian people actually find it funny to make racist statements? And if you protest then that means you do not understand Australian humor.

My biggest frustration right now is the Prime Minster's refusal to be politically correct when discussing refugee issues. Political and war refugees are persecuted in their countries of origin because they are different from the ruling group of people. How can this discussion on refugees progress if we do not consider political correctness?

I have big hopes for this country and I am sure we will get over this. I am afraid though that the truly multicultural Australia will not be seen in my lifetime.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Frost Photos

These photos were taken in the same morning as the videos. I was wearing thick gloves so it was a bit difficult operating the camera. The ground was freezing so I could not really go down and look at the view finder. Most of these shots are just pure luck. It has been a couple of days and it is only this morning (while I was editing) that I discovered that I actually took a photo of a frozen fly. That is the fly in the last photo.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Farm, Fog, Frost and a Fluffy Face

(I had to wake up early to film these scenes. Hence, my face was still swollen in the videos--just ignore it!)

Steven drove for three hours to Pinnaroo to attend a good friend's birthday dinner. This town has around 500 inhabitants so everyone know each other and not much really happens there. It is very interesting to be there though--one could hear a pin drop right in the middle of town. Most of the inhabitants are Caucasians with a few Asian and European backpackers.

We had to drive through fog in the night and Steven is not used to it so I had to stay awake during the drive as well. We saw lots of rabbits, mice, foxes and a few kangaroos. We did not run over anything except for the mice--which are considered pests anyway. It was eerie to be in a fast-moving vehicle with limited vision.

The place we stayed in is Steven's grandparent's old farmhouse. It is a place where a TV can barely get any channel and cellphone signals are non-existent. The quilt we brought from Adelaide was barely enough to keep us warm.

I woke up early to behold something magical--frost. My fingers were numb but I could not help myself from taking photos of the ice on plants, rubber hose and wood planks. The poisonous paddy melons look more inviting as they felt deliciously chilled. The sheep were crying in the paddocks and I wanted to run towards them but I am afraid of being approached by the rams.

I am definitely going back there.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Invading Moonta Bay

It is getting colder and colder in Adelaide but this won't stop me from enjoying the outdoors. It was a long weekend and Steven and I went to Moonta Bay.

We walked along the beach all rugged up. I was wearing a beanie that hid most of my face. I wish I could see without covering my eyes as well. I had gloves on and yet the cold permeated through. I also wished I had put on my thermal pants before we left Adelaide.

Instead of looking around, I looked down and photographed these tiny sea snails. I had my elbows down on the sand and volcanic rocks while taking advantage of the low tide.

We tried catching fish and squid for hours. We were very unsuccessful because a dolphin was lurking around the beach. I was not able to see it but I could hear its spout. I wondered how dolphin meat would taste like with hot chips.