Nobody’s thinking of the students, are they?

An announcement in the rarely active page of The Scholastican this morning cut me to the quick. It was about the response of my alma mater, St. Scholastica’s College Manila, to a rather barbed commentary on Pol Medina’s famous comic strip, Pugad Baboy.

Eh medyo bad trip lang.

Eh medyo bad trip lang.

The strip itself was caustic. Medina has never been known to be a fan of the Church and its tendency to meddle in political affairs, but this was…off. For one thing, tarring everyone with the same brush never works – you’re bound to hit a nerve somewhere and you’ll end up looking like the bigoted one.

Case in point, not all Catholics are hypocrites (though I could point you to quite a few who are), and most definitely, NOT ALL PRETTY SCHOLASTICANS HAVE GIRLFRIENDS. The sweeping, heavy-handed generalizations dealt out in Mr. Medina’s comic irked netizens across the board. Scholasticans were peeved because, hello, hindi kami lahat tomboy. All-girl schools were irked because they were being tagged as breeding grounds for homosexual relationships. Catholics were mad because they were being targeted yet again. And we lesbians are mad because goddamit, stop picking on the one school where people like us are treated fairly.

Andaming drama – kesyo anti-Marcos daw, kesyo conspiracy dahil ngayon lang daw pinuna, kesyo open secret naman ito. WHO SAID? Can you guarantee for a fact that every single pretty Scholastican has a girlfriend? You can’t? Then don’t say so on a national paper!

St. Scholastica’s administration has sent a letter expressing their disapproval of the material and the absolute rejection of Pol Medina’s wildly mistaken theory about their students, and PDI has reacted by pulling the offensive comic and possibly PMJ’s slot in their daily spreadsheet. SSC has posted its reaction on its social media sites, and while nobody has actually commented (why is that?!) on the actual post, reactions are still popping up on FB and Twitter.

I, for one, am seething. The cartoon was really offensive. (For one thing, the word he used to describe the nuns was SO derogatory!) But what gets me is that NOBODY is even thinking of the students. Pataasan na lang ng ere. But in the long run, it’s the students in private schools who will take the brunt of this.

When I read the school’s response, it was a little weaker than I thought it would be.

“We protest in the strongest possible terms the way the school was singled out and our Sister-administrators accused of allowing homosexual relationships between its female students,” said the spokesperson for SSC.

To be fair, I should have had my coffee before reading that, because I misread it to say that “we do not allow homosexual relationships between our students”, hence the facebook expletive on my personal page.

But wait, can we look a little closer at the SSC response? Does the school take offence at the accusation of “allowing homosexual relationships between its female students”, or does it take offence at the fact that Pol Medina thinks that this is Catholic hypocrisy? And does he see how damaging this statement has the potential to become?

I have always been proud to be a Scholastican. While St. Mary’s shall always be credited with most of my minor psychosis, St. Scho shaped me, gave me my work ethic, and taught me the value and limits of personal and professional pride (not a lesson I have mastered just yet, tao lang). As a girl coming to grips with a lot of cold hard truths of a world that can turn very ugly, these things were very important to me. As a woman discovering what it meant to be gay, the dignity with which we were treated at SSC was priceless. Without it, I think I would be far, far more messed up.

And I have ALWAYS been proud of that legacy of my alma mater – that your value as a student or person was never ever a function of whom you were attracted to. It just never came into the equation. Of course, this was in college, but even in high school, the admin made it clear that the rules applied to everybody. Sanctions were handed out equally (so I heard). The punishments were heavy and the rules were clear – one conducted oneself in a dignified manner, regardless of your preferences. That’s a far cry from the anxiety-ridden witch hunts my high school conducted on a regular basis. We were publicly shamed, threatened, and some teachers even took it personally…to the point that they would hound us when we conducted student activities. Hound us. We were never safe, and the attitude the school created encouraged serious bullying.

I remember when I was a senior whose task it was to make rounds of classrooms, reminding people of the dress code. There was one teacher who followed me (seriously, WHY?) to two classrooms to interrupt me and ask the class if they had ever seen a man, and if they had, why were there people who were so “desperate” that they went out with girls? (I came out as a sophomore and had serious closet-aversion issues, so yes, she knew me.)

I don’t know, miss. What makes you so desperate that you follow a 16-year-old around? But I digress.

It is a grave insult to me and those like me that Medina then, think that SSC’s policy of respect and acceptance be hypocrisy. So, Pol, you would rather that they beat us, in line with the more “correct Catholic belief”, is that it?
People ask why SSC was singled out. It’s because SSC has never “purged” its lesbians by irrational expulsions or ridiculous moral clause suspensions. SSC’s lezzies were not afraid to participate in class activities that shared life experiences. We were more visible, we had less to fear. But that didn’t mean we were the norm.

When I first came to St. Scholastica’s College, I was in a class of nineteen. I was the only lesbian there. I made one of my new best friends cry during orientation week when I told her I had a girlfriend, because it broke her brain a little. She’d never seen a lesbian up close, we would joke, and definitely, not one that painted her nails and was addicted to pink shiny things and Sailor Moon. Later on, when she was married and had her own daughter, she admitted to me that because it was such a non-issue at school, it made it easier for her to step back and look at the situation with less panic. I was a good friend, who was gay, but did not suddenly grow a second head, or randomly hit on strangers, or did crack. So she stuck with me. All my closest friends from that class are all het, all partnered, and not a single one of them, even those I was not close with, ever had an issue with my sexuality.

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Few people would understand what bliss it was to have something that so often became shackles suddenly cease to exist. I studied hard, I participated in social discussions, I was encouraged to use my mind and be unhindered by being a) a woman of moderate means and b) a lesbian.

Why would anyone try to shame these people for it? Because they want to increase societal pressure to “control” the lesbians in private schools? Did they even think for one minute how the lives of young lesbians in those schools would be affected?

Already SSC has gone on the defensive. Will they crack down on the dykes there? Will they remove them from positions in student orgs? Will they have their very own witch hunts in the name of defending the Catholic expectation?

And why won’t Medina at least apologize? What was done was done and if he apologized to the school for singling them out, hindi ba maaayos ito?

I don’t know. All I know is I will never buy another Pugad Baboy comic again, and support the school in seeking at least a public apology.

Spread the word!

    posted on by Little Bunny posted in Uncategorized

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