Culture, Human Rights

Little Earthquakes at Roxas Boulevard

This entry comes two weeks late, in part due to my hesitation to write something about the news of the rape of a Filipina by 6 US marines. I did not find need to write anything to incite further anger among Filipinos; it has since been spilling out of the papers and television. The details of the incident, related by officials through the media, are downright shocking. The crime itself so recklessly and brazenly committed that perpetrators obviously were confident that they were beyond reproach.

This early, there are signs that the Arroyo government will again be bending backwards to accomodate the lords of war in Washington. Only the wrath of a provoked people may be able to stop them from selling justice and our sovereignty off.

What is far less written about, however, is how the media’s spotlight on the incident, as well as the picket protests, probably preempted efforts by government authorities to sweep the case under the rug. Reports have it that local officials, notably the Zambales governor who is a strong Arroyo ally, attempted to brocker a settlement or areglo. The victim’s family adamantly refused. I imagined they were emboldened by the broad show of support from women’s and militant groups.

I am particularly proud of having witnessed a handful of activists marching to the US embassy, braving Arroyo’s calibrated preemptive response, to comdemn the atrocity a day after it publicly broke out. My favorite person, Joms, even braved the heckling of a caucasian sexist scumbag to answer back and say that rape is rape, no matter the victim’s occupation, and that it is a crime of the worst, most barbaric kind.

* * *
It is by some strange providence that as I was writing this entry, Tori Amos’ Little Earthquakes album was playing in the background. Or maybe I’m imagining. In any case, I find it amazing how popular music shapes our emotions and interrogates our consciousness: while intimating on urban decay, I hear Cohen singing insurgent poetry to the tune of an 80s dance music; while writing about violence against women, I hear Tori Amos’ anguished voice in Me and a Gun:

5am friday morning
thursday night far from sleep
i’m still up and driving
can’t go home obviously
so i’ll just change direction
cause they’ll soon know where i live
and i wanna live
got a full tank and some chips
it was me and a gun
and a man on my back
and i sang “holy holy”
as he buttoned down his pants
you can laugh
its kind of funny
things you think
times like these
like i haven’t seen BARBADOS
so i must get out of this
yes i wore a slinky red thing
does that mean i should spread
for you, your friends
your father, mr ed
it was me and a gun
and a man on my back
but i haven’t seen BARBADOS
so i must get out of this
and i know what this means
me and jesus a few years back
used to hang
and he said “it’s your choice babe
just remember
i don’t think you’ll be back
in 3 days time so you choose well”
tell me whats right
is it my right to be on my stomach
of fred’s seville
it was me and a gun
and a man on my back
but i haven’t seen BARBADOS
so i must get out of this
and do you know CAROLINA
where the biscuits
are soft and sweet
these things go through your head
when there’s a man on your back
and you’re pushed flat on your stomach
it’s not a classic cadillac
it was me and a gun
and a man on my back
but i haven’t seen BARBADOS
so i must get out of this
i haven’t seen BARBADOS
so i must get out of this

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