Breaking a Dehumanizing Tradition
by Vladimir Rom Matias, LLB
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In a democratic society like the Philippines, citizens are usually given choices as to who shall be community leaders, what important courses of action to take or how to face a lingering social malady. But it is a common knowledge that in most circumstances, we are left with little or no alternative to choose from such as when we were born, we could not choose a mother, sister or family. Some are fortunate to have a loving and caring mother or sister who can always lend a helping hand on occasions of dire need and material nothingness. Many, inluding I, suffered multiple stab wounds of physical abuses and psychological discomforts from the very same line of blood where they belong.
Indebted and to a minor extent, blessed, I am completely thankful to all my mother and father's efforts in spending huge for my and my siblings' schooling. I, together with my siblings, am glad to have been given the opportunity of finishing college, a privilege that not every poor Filipino family enjoys. However, one thought that does not sit with me well and until now continues to zap my vitality and haunt me like a ghost of the past is the true experience that I -- and even some of my siblings -- suffered enormous forms of dehumanization and degradation from my very own mother and oldest sister. Being a poor family is never a license to showcase unto the world how ruthless and cruel one can be in treating a co-member of a pack.
Actually, I can easily forget all the bodily punishments inflicted on me when I was young, easily prone to commit mistakes and knows nothing on norms or social conventions, and ultimately can forgive my mother for being a harsh disciplinarian. But, there are two things I can't forget and still hurting. One, I felt that Mom has never respected my boyhood nor appreciated my being a boy. A true-blue man-hater who loves to quarrel Dad, she was living with a curse against masculinity - a legacy she inherited from her aunt and passed on to my oldest sister. Inferno awaits me once I tried to reassert myself being a boy. Even though, sometimes I was allowed to play with other children in the neighborhood, more often than not, it was a no, no playing with other boys or boys' games. Instead of highlighting the positive sides of friendship, she always emphasizes the negative aspects of it. Two, as always she impresses on me that I was wrong when good reasons tell me I'm on the right side. Without giving an opportunity to air my side, my dictatorial mother, defying the modern vitrtues of democracy, throws a verdict immediately and easily hands corporal punishment to my own detriment. In her eyes, I was always wrong ( that my oldest sister is always right), a sore loser , not worthy of attention - a stigmatizing and harrowing experience that led me to think I am worthless, not capable of doing good. I guess the most difficult pill to swallow is the feeling that you are not loved by your own mom. Worst, she may have dreamt of me someday becoming a loner, a phenomenon that may be truer today than yesterday.
Added to my sorrows is a Medusa sister who completely mirrored all my mother's bad elements. Living with my mother and oldest sister in a single roof is a complete package of hell where I hardly breathe and completely suffocated with deadly gases of mercurial temperament and vices of wickedness. Scores of fellow Claverians have to perform personal sacrifices by looking for a viable occupation somewhere else in order to send their poor brothers and sisters to college. My oldest sister may have helped in contributing money to finance my and my youngest sister's studies, but like a foreign aid to the Philippines coupled with non-compete clauses, her act of benevolence is not really coming from the bosom of her heart and is imposed not without harsh and grossly unreasonable conditions. In my first two years in college, every day and night was a total havoc: she will spend the whole period nagging, badmouthing, threatening with physical assault, intimidating, telling me the value of her contributions for my studies. Utterly unacceptable clauses such as "Pinapakain lang kita" (I feed you) and "Lumayas ka dito nagrereklamo ka" (Leave this place if You're complaining) would always reverberate to my ears whenever I was in the same place with her. Showing no difference to a lesbian neighbor who regularly batters and sometimes rapes her hapless younger sister, my oldest sister already forgot the misfortune of her being paralyzed for a year, and we selflessly had to take turns attending to her needs. In my junior year in college, I finally decided to leave my sister behind and stay in the university men's dormitory, much to the chagrin of my disagreeing parents. My sister could have explained nicely and appropriately her hardships and sacrifices for us and we would have easily understood her. Philippine laws cherish the family as a basic social unit; in doing so, a provision in the New Civil Code requires brothers and sisters to support each other for mutual benefit and welfare. But this provision is crystal- clear that every act of dole-out should be done in good faith and not to the disadvantage of the recipient. My sister's act of helping was neither in pursuance of such spirit nor in consonance with Christian time-honored values of selflessness and non-violence.
Sadly, I have never engaged in an interactive, pleasant and friendly conversation with my Stalin mom and Medusa sister, largely due to their undemocratic ways of dealing with a son and a brother. Irreparably damged, i felt envious whenever I saw a mother coming to the defense of her beleaguered son, because I did not feel the same loving embrace from my own mom. It is arguably correct to say that mine is not an isolated occurrence in a Third World Country suffering from various forms of social headaches; for sure, other boys in Masbate's bucolic villages as well in other parts of the world experienced the same shabby treatment from their familial blood relatives. Avenues of help are not readily accessible in the countryside and cold treatment from my mom and oldest sister greatly impacted on my physical and psychological well-being. Psychological trauma leads me to sob or weep openly or to behave differently, an unfortunate situation in which many a vulgar and opportunist
lady, for my failure to meet their mundane expectations, often accuse me of homosexuality.
Teaching human rights should start with the family. Parents should be taught that children are not commodities that can be dictated upon or disposed of. Sisters and brothers should be taught about collateral-free love that does bot impose inhumane conditions. It is a sad spectacle to see that the Philippine Commission on Human Rights is an office where the task of its highest executive officers is merely focused on showing how beautiful (or ugly) they look in front of the cameras of the mass media or paying an unsolicited lip service. As regards social issues especially on HR violations, government entitites such as the DSWD should intensify their campaigns by making frequent and regular household visits to ensure kids' rights and welfare are given import amid the prevalence of grinding poverty. Ministers of the gospel, who stand very close to the people, should extend assistance to those who are heavily burdened or whose lives are jeopardized or coming into the jaws of extinction.
Because, in the end, we can still live a happy life even if we are destitutes.
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