By Niña Terol AFTER the press conference that introduced the Movement for Good Governance (MGG) to media and other supporters, I heard from one of the MGG "elders" something that I rarely hear: an acknowledgement -- a thinly veiled apology, actually -- that the country is still deep in muck because his generation didn't do a good enough job of "fixing things" here. "In spite of the activism then, we still didn't do enough for the Philippines," he lamented. "Most of us gave up on the country and focused instead on making a living. That in itself is not wrong, but we just didn't try hard enough." He wasn't blaming government for the chronic ills that have paralyzed the country. He wasn't blaming the youth for being apathetic. He wasn't blaming globalization for pushing developed countries forward and leaving the rest of the world behind. He wasn't mouthing off a litany of complaints. Instead, he was facing a reality that many in his generation still could not see: that the failures of this country are aggregated results of THEIR own failures. Writing this now, I am reminded of that poetic moment when Australians lit their candles and said "We're sorry" to the victims of state-sponsored injustices against the indigenous peoples of Australia. It was a strong, symbolic gesture that united a country and enabled them to move forward from a divided past. I am reminded, too, of how Japan and South Korea rose from the ashes of war and brought dignity and pride to their people through political will, hard work, and sheer discipline. Of course, Barack Obama's victory as the 44th President of the United States comes to mind, too, because one generation ago even his candidacy would have been utterly impossible. I am even reminded of Brazil, Vietnam, and the Czech Republic come to mind because of their marked improvement on the economic and "global PR" fronts. It didn't take these countries a hundred years to turn around; it took political will and the willingness of their people to make the sacrifices that usually precede success. * * * Now that the challenge of true, sustainable reform and better governance falls on the shoulders of MY generation, I'd just like to ask our elders to make one meaningful resolution for the New Year: BACK US UP. Back us up by acknowledging your mistakes and showing us what you could have done better. Let's face it: every decision, every action, could be done in a better way. Tell us what went wrong, what factors contributed to our current state, what decisions you would have reversed, what you would not have done at all -- and so on. It is only through your collective foresight and hard-earned wisdom that will we know what paths will waste our time at best, or which ones will sabotage our efforts at worst. We CANNOT afford to make the same mistakes you made because we're running out of time. Back us up by supporting our efforts. Yes, "the youth is the hope of the country"—we've heard that at least a million times. We know that it is our time to put in the hours, our turn to step up to the plate of nation-building; it’s our turn to lead. But we cannot work in a vacuum, and we cannot move forward without the proper resources. We will need you to steer us toward the right direction, to introduce us to the right people, and to mobilize the necessary resources to get things done. Enable us, and we will help in empowering the whole country -- it sounds like a good deal to me. Back us up by giving us space to create, experiment, innovate. We need your advice and your help, but we also need some room to develop new and "out of the universe" solutions to old and chronic problems. Share the volumes of wisdom culled from your experience, but do not dictate every step that we ought to take. Trust that, as young as we are, we, too, have the capability to think things through and get the job done. Steer us, but do not stifle us. True synergy can only happen when both parties (in this case, your generation and ours) regard each other as equals. * * * Statistics say that between 50 and 56 percent of the entire voting population in 2010 (depending on which figures you look at) will come from the youth. That's a huge number, and if properly steered it can "claim the vote" for reform and good governance. But let us not forget the 44 to 50 percent of adults who are equally crucial to changing the game for the future. There are many adults in the Philippines who still have never voted in their lives; many adults who have yet to register; many adults who still do not know how to choose the right leaders for their children... many, many adults -- especially those outside of the country -- who have given up on the Philippines because "walang ganyan sa States." Youth may have already escaped you, but your time is still not up. As long as you're around, we're going to need your help. Niña Terol, 28, is a key mover of Movement for Good Governance and is a writer and political communicator. If she could ask former presidents and cabinet members one question, she would ask this: "Name one key decision you had made during your term that you would have done better, and how and why. Answering 'none' is not an option."
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By Boogie Boydon Editor's note: This article was originally written for Ang Bagong Pinoy by the author. He has given us permission to re-publish it in this blog. A sense of despair is in our midst. A growing feeling of helplessness and hopelessness pervades our day-to-day lives with more and more Filipinos quietly and patiently simply waiting for an opportunity to bolt from what they perceive as a God-forsaken nation on the brink of collapse. The inability to muster enough numbers to mount another People Power is taken by some as a sign of growing apathy within our ranks. Some people say that the apathy is actually a reflection of heightened mistrust and lack of confidence in our institutions of justice, law-enforcement and governance. In 1987, American essayist James Fallows wrote that we have a “damaged culture” and went on to say that “because of (this) fragmentation, this lack of useful nationalism, people treat each other worse in the Philippines than in any other Asian country I have seen ...” People bristled at his seemingly callous conclusions then but now that we seem to be facing a blank wall in trying to explain why and how this “damaged culture” came about, we find that our history of successive colonization that gave us a frail and confused consciousness to begin with, coupled with the decades of psychological cues we have imbued along the way to what we are now, are worthy of a second look. I belong to a generation who grew up thinking that our problems will be solved by a masked and flying crusader, a “Darna” within our midst who can solve all our problems without us lifting a finger to do it ourselves. And so we vote to office our varied brands of “heroes” and place our full hope in them, only to be frustrated when they do not live up to our image of a “Lastikman” or a “Captain Barbell.” We do not realize that the solution to our problems could have been within our grasp to start with if only we took it upon ourselves to participate fully in the task of solving them. Or perhaps we thought that we can be our own “Darna” and imagined a supernatural intervention amidst an apparition of a quick fix. We waited patiently for that elusive one-time meteorite stone that will give us the super powers we long for. We relished the hope given to us by the promise that with the flick of a finger, the lighting of a candle will transform our “Cofradian” blackness into a ravishing “Tisay,” or the wearing of a magic “kamison” will transform our ugly-duckling stature to a beauty and elegance fit for royalty. Thus the lure of the sweepstake, the jueteng and a parade of game shows that promise instant millions that would give us a rags-to-riches experience have time and again proven to be irresistible. Of course nowadays the candle of Cofradia may very well have been replaced by the modern-day Glutathione but that is beside the point. So we tenaciously hang on and with unwavering resilience are able to withstand the seeming hopelessness and helplessness of our daily grind. At the back of our minds is the hope that we will one day be rewarded with an amulet from the sky that will endow us with extraordinary capabilities that will magically eradicate all our miseries. The likes of “Da King” FPJ and other screen heroes of the same genre showed us that we can withstand all ridicule, sufferings and pain because in the end we will have the final say and our tormentors will have the comeuppance they so much deserve. “May araw ka din” is what we silently mumble to ourselves in reference to all the Paquito and Romy Diazes and Max Alvarados in our lives. We have generations of Filipinos who grew up exposed to the antics of the likes of Mang Nano played by actor-comedian Pugo in “Tang-ta-rang-tang” and “Si Tatang Kasi” who flaunt their capability to put one over their neighbor as simply being “ma-abilidad” or “wais.” And it’s not just Mang Nano to whom we owe it to. Decades of comedians after him have practically spun their antics around the same theme: It is not wrong to do something bad, as long as you can get away with it. We have glamorized this part of their comical repertoire to the point that we have begun thinking the same way ourselves. When we encounter a long queue that would definitely inconvenience us, we easily succumb to the temptation of having a friend or even a “fixer” facilitate things for us so that we will not have to go through the long line. And when we are able to finish ahead of others, we gloat at our resourcefulness without realizing that we have added to our neighbor’s agony because the time that would have rightfully been theirs was spent processing our transaction and have unduly extended their pain of waiting. As Erly de Guzman of Galing Pilipino is wont to say, “Ang gulang naging galing” and we think that being able to put one over our neighbor as a sign of our being “maabilidad” and “wais” is an achievement to be proud of.. A quick search of what’s out there regarding Mang Nano revealed this write up about a movie “Nukso ng Nukso” which Pugo did in 1960 : “In Nukso nang Nukso, Pugo is Mang Nano Batekabesa, the wily but lovable 'manggagantso' who concocts the most ingenuous scams to finance his little vices, like jueteng or cockfighting.” Talk about role models and screen heroes! Put all of the aforementioned together and a clearer picture emerges. We want to rise from an impoverished or disadvantaged state we are in but either: * we feel that somebody ought to do it for us because we long for a superhero to rescue us from our sorry state; or * we hope to do it ourselves but are too lazy to work for it and thus desperately cling to the arrival of a quick-fix that will magically transform our lives. So we quietly endure our hardships while waiting for the time to “have our day.” Then whenever an opportunity presents itself where we can put one over our neighbor we grab it with gusto and relish and gloat at the thought that we have once more displayed our being “maabilidad” and “wais.” It somehow eases the pain of discomfort of our disadvantaged state. After a while the distorted sense of “galing” at being so “wais” above the rest has become so pervasive that it has become a natural high that we indulge in it purely for the simple joy of feeling good. Sure, we may have felt guilty at times because of our largely Christian upbringing. After all, we used to be the only Christian nation in Asia. But we have become so adept at rationalizing our shortcomings that we have managed to develop a value system that is so convolutedly flexible and interchangeable. When I was asked whether the ideals listed in “Ang ulirang Pinoy” are interchangeable in rank I said “No.” They are listed precisely in that order because they represent a hierarchy of values. In fact, the order that they are supposed to be appreciated and implemented in one’s life is as important as the values that they contain. Without putting significance to the way that they are ordered is to invite ourselves to fall prey to a distorted sense of morals. We have to learn to dichotomize and prioritize whenever we are faced with the dilemma of having to choose between two seemingly positive values. Otherwise we end up with Mass-going, communion-receiving politicians who do not even bat an eyelash in protecting their cronies in the name of “pakikisama” and “utang na loob” because they put a premium on their fear of losing peer approval more than their fear of God. Yes we are a Christian nation but we have fallen short of our Christian heritage. We have learned to love ourselves but have continuously struggled over the “loving our neighbor as we love ourselves” part. In 2005 when I started the forum of Ang Bagong Pinoy it came out of a frustration that 20 years after EDSA 1 we have hardly anything to show for our victory. The son that I carried on the streets of EDSA who was barely 1 year old then has now graduated from college. A generation has passed. We were greatly moved by the experience of EDSA but it seems we have barely moved since then. We can’t keep on casting the blame on others without looking at ourselves first. We can’t keep on casting the first stone as if we have no sin that merits a stone being cast our way. We have to try to first effect the change that we want to see in others in ourselves. Strive to be a better person. Strive to be a more compassionate neighbor. Strive to love our neighbor as ourselves. Strive to be a good citizen of this country. As Alexander Lacson has written in his book, we can start with “twelve little things every Filipino can do to help our country.” And then perhaps the dream of a better Philippines will become a closer reality. Loving our neighbor is at the heart of rebuilding our nation. As Teacher Nelia Sarcol has so clearly expressed in her Filipino ideology of the Pearl Principle, “strive not just to change from within but to effect change as well within our sphere of influence.” For example, if someone cuts into my lane while I’m driving, I will not curse the person nor pass judgment on him or her because I do not know his/her personal circumstances and I’m not in a position to judge. But I can always influence my wife, my children and other people close to me not to do the same. I will be doing both out of love for my neighbor. Those whom I influence will also try to effect changes within their respective spheres. In due time this will all come full circle. When that time comes, there might not even be a need to cast a stone at all. The miracle of Couples for Christ ’s Gawad Kalinga has already shown the way to what the transforming love of Christ can do to ordinary people and what these ordinary people can do to their neighbors because of the transforming love of Christ Let us not tire of doing the little things that love requires. Day by day let us strive to build a character steeped in love and imbued with compassion. During the graduation rites of my youngest child, their First Honor said in her speech, “To reach our objective, we must not tire of doing the little things every day, for in the end, all of these things add up.”
By Niña Terol Editor's Note: This contribution has been posted in the author's blog. We're re-posting it here with her permission. AND now we face yet another hundred-million-peso scandal, unfolding in real-time in the august chambers of the Philippine Senate, involving yet another fall guy who is now the country’s hottest topic (and butt of jokes) but who will later on be forgotten. The moment I heard his name -- a few years ago, when my mom casually mentioned the name of the Rotary’s then-District Governor -- I immediately felt that there was something fishy about a man named Jocelyn, who called himself Joc-Joc. I think that any public servant who respects his position enough should at least find a more suitable nickname upon assuming a position of great responsibility. Don’t trust a man who calls himself a joke -- or, perhaps more accurately, a two-faced joker. But I digress. This latest scandal to rock the Philippine shores -- er, fields -- paints yet another ugly caricature of this present administration and its cohorts and once again makes the Filipino nation look like a bunch of idiots. How can anyone justify distributing funds for agricultural inputs that are of the wrong kind, given at the wrong time, for the wrong districts? (And, oh yes, they were grossly overpriced, too.) I felt a brief moment of admiration for Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago when she admitted that, although she is an administration ally, Joc-Joc Bolante was simply “defending the indefensible.” Former Agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Joc-Joc Bolante at todays Senate hearing. (Inquirer.net) There is simply no way of getting around this. And we cannot let these corrupt, unscrupulous officials get away with it. If I were a guy, I’d say that “nakakalalaki na ‘tong gobyernong ito (this government is challenging my manhood–or something to that effect).” This whole episode reminds me of Dr. René Azurin’s book, aptly titled Power Without Virtue. In his introduction, he exhorts us to exact accountability from government, saying that “their powers should be strictly limited, constantly monitored, and held always in check.” Allow me to share some excerpts from his book’s introductory essay: “… Tremendous discretionary power over public funds, public resources, and public policies is vested in those who capture control of government, and that power has been consolidated, increased, refined, guarded and avariciously used over the years by the nation’s politicos for their own private and personal gain. Irrespective of any labels or party names that presidents, senators, congressmen and local government officials have attached to themselves over the more than hundred years since [Mabini’s time], all have been joined… by the notion that the positions they occupy are opportunities ‘to grasp’ and not ‘to serve.’ “By its very nature, of course, it is inescapable that power is vested in government and, by extension, in government officials. Because, however, it is not reasonable to expect that our public officials will be as moral or as ethical as the ‘sublime’ Mabini [whom Dr. Azurin refers to early on in his essay], their powers should be strictly limited, constantly monitored and held always in check. Discretionary allocations in the national budget -- like the huge presidential discretionary funds and legislative pork barrel -- should be eliminated altogether. The decisions to award public projects should always be minutely scrutinized, publicly justified and never cloaked in ‘executive privilege.’” Joc-Joc Bolante has yet to invoke “executive privilege,” but he has asked that his right against self-incrimination be upheld, even if this is a right extended only to the accused and not to witnesses. He insists that he never knew who recommended him as Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture, even if he later on admits that the only one he knows from the upper echelons of Malacañang is First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, a “good friend” of his. He apologizes for having made the Senate wait for three years for him to surface and offer his testimony, even if he has had plenty of opportunities to surface before his incarceration in the United States. Moreover, he is adamant that the President had nothing to do with this scandal, although incumbent officials acknowledge that Mrs. Arroyo is a micro-manager who dips her fingers (or those of her husband) in practically every matter in this government. Nobody believes that P728 million could be disbursed to over a hundred districts in the country without this president’s knowledge. Clearly, what we have in front of us is a joker who cannot be trusted or given the benefit of the doubt. He is one of those avaricious men whose primary motivation for joining government is to enjoy its many under-the-table perks. Now that he has surfaced, we will have to bear with days-- possibly even weeks -- of a live telenovela that makes the Filipino people look tanga (idiotic) in the worst possible way. How much more of this will we take? Aren’t we tired of scandal after scandal, and of government officials who think that we’re stupid, apathetic and callous, even? More importantly, what are we going to do about it? I once more refer to Tito Rene’s introduction to show an alternative I do not want to see: “In theory, the extent of government power is specified by the role the people assign to it. In practice, that role is actually determined by the latitude the political class is given to arrogate powers unto themselves. Unfortunately, ‘the people’ -- being a dispersed, diffuse mass -- have no real ability to limit that latitude. It is therefore left to other organized institutions of society -- such as civic groups, business groups, advocacy movements, professional associations, religious institutions, academic institutions and media -- to try to circumscribe (if they are so inclined) the role of government and the powers of government officials, and then hold them to account. “A community holds together, I believe, largely because there are reasonable expectations that a system exists for ensuring that each member of it will be treated fairly and justly by the community itself, if not necessarily by every other member of it. Without this conviction, I think that communities will inevitably break apart (unless held together by force, in which case a revolt will eventually become inevitable). If the privileged few who exercise power in the community use this power to plunder and exploit, and they vulgarly display themselves as exempt from the rules imposed on the ordinary many without power, there is no compelling incentive for the powerless and unprivileged to stay within the community or, if they do, to follow its rules.” If we want to keep intact what is left of the Philippine community, we need to demand accountability from our public officials NOW. The jokers in government have already taken too much from us -- what else are we going to allow them to grasp? Niña Terol, 28, is an officer of Team RP and YouthVotePhilippines and a member of other reform-oriented groups. She hopes to make real, positive change happen in the Philippines within her lifetime.
By Joel Rocamora THE bishops did it. Their call for a “new government”, then building hope around “liberators” who are “just around the corner” got everyone worked up. A “new government” in advance of the 2010 elections, of course, means the extra constitutional removal of the Arroyo administration. Everyone assumes the bishops are not talking of the Second Coming. Maybe those knights in shining armor who are a long time coming. Conspiracy theorists are having a field day. The impeachment initiative, chacha, and the arrival of Jocjoc Bolante primed the public for the bishops’ statement. Are these moves linked? Is there a master conspiracy behind these linked moves? Did the bishops light the fuse for a coming explosion? Is it a short or a long fuse? The nice thing about conspiracy theories is that we can enjoy dramatic tension even if we cannot find out if there’s anything to the theory. Whether or not the bishops are, consciously or unconsciously, part of a conspiracy, what they’ve done is important because it reminds us that moral outrage does not recognize the political calendar. Practical politicians on both sides of the pro-anti-Gloria divide say talk of liberation have to make way for preparations for the 2010 election, only a year and a half away. The moral sensibility asks why we have to wait. If we can, let’s get rid of her now. Which bishops set the impact. Bishop Oscar Cruz, the constant warrior, tilting endlessly against jueteng. Bishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the CBCP, perennially frustrated by the CBCP’s conservative majority. Bishop Socrates Villegas is bishop of Balanga-Bataan, but he is well known to Manila reform circles from serving as the late Cardinal Sin’s able assistant. Two others signed the statement, Masbate Bishop Joel Baylon, and Legazpi Bishop Emeritus Jose Sorra. Who was not with them might also be revealing. The bishops of KME who were not there have in the past been accused of supporting coup attempts. If the KME bishops have been the more public of the Catholic church’s progressive section, the AMRSP has more resources. AMRSP sisters have been Jun Lozada’s bodyguards for most of the last eight months. The bishops’ initiative was apparently at the behest of the AMRSP. Whether intentional or not, the bishops also weighed in on the 2010 elections. Two presidential contenders, Vice President De Castro and Senate President Villar, are clearly not in the bishops’ support list. The two leaders they prefer, Chief Justice Puno and AFP Chief-of-staff Yano, are not running for elective office, but could come in as leaders of an extra-constitutional post-GMA leadership. On its own, the bishops’ initiative is not likely to result in the kind of change they hope for. But it does raise the incendiary potential of other ongoing developments. Bolante’s return has been avidly anticipated. His attempt to avoid having to talk, resulting in two years of imprisonment in the US, indicates the explosive potential of his telling the truth. But early indications are that he’s not going to talk. There’s an apparently coordinated effort to prevent his testimony in the Senate. Even before he returned, his lawyer petitioned the Supreme Court to prevent the Senate from reopening hearings on the fertilizer scam, arguing that the investigation is finished. This argument is backed up by administration allies in the Senate led by Senator Angara who says that the Senate long ago submitted its recommendation to the Ombudsman for Jocjoc’s prosecution. For two years, the Ombudsman did nothing, acting only on the day after Jocjoc returned. The positioning of administration lackeys in the Senate is understandable. What needs explaining is the hesitation of Senate President Villar who only moved to have Jocjoc arrested by the Senate the moment he arrived after LP senators threatened to attack him. Villar is also “problematizing” what committee would investigate. Since the Committee on Agriculture is headed by Sen.Angara, the only logical committee is the Blue Ribbon Committee headed by Villar party mate Senator Alan Peter Cayetano. Senator Mar Roxas has proposed that the Senate convene as a committee of the whole. Maybe this is where the explanation for Villar’s hesitation lies. He does not want to give Mar Roxas a platform. Villar supporters might also be worried that a Bolante expose would put some life into the impeachment complaint. In the unlikely possibility that GMA does get impeached, it would greatly strengthen the position of another Villar competitor, Vice President De Castro, who would become president. A combination of administration senators and Villar allies, together with the more than one week lapse before the Senate reconvenes could defuse the Bolante issue, even if the Supreme Court refuses to act on Bolante’s petition. The competing political calculations of 2010 election coalitions is also likely to determine the fate of the impeachment complaint. The minority in the House has not, so far, endorsed the complaint. While there is no such thing as impossible in the shifting coalitions of Philippine politics, the complaint is not likely to get the one third of House members needed to move the complaint to the Senate. If its proponents succeed in at least debating the substance of the complaint, that will, under current circumstances, already be a victory. The administration’s move to advance its chacha agenda is potentially more explosive. The attempt, whether it succeeds or not, is proof of opposition suspicions that GMA intends to stay in power beyond the end of her term in 2010. Led by House Speaker Nograles, the administration is mobilizing to secure charter change without involving the Senate. Quite openly, administration stalwarts are saying that if they can get three fourths of the members of both the House and the Senate, they can pass constitutional amendments. For now, the amendment would only remove the prohibition on foreign ownership of land. If Nograles succeeds in getting the 196 votes of House members he needs, the issue will then be raised to the Supreme Court. If GMA allies in the SC affirm the constitutionality of this mode of amending the constitution, there will then be no legal obstacle for GMA and her allies to make the kinds of changes that would keep GMA in power past 2010. The conditions for maximum polarization will then have been set. These kinds of conditions should facilitate the revival of the mass movement. Whether they like it or not, the anti-GMA opposition will be forced to reunite as the likelihood of 2010 elections recedes. It will also force leaders of key political institutions, in particular the SC and more importantly, the AFP, to decide whether their allegiance to the constitution extends past its being mangled. If the Chief-of-staff decides he has no obligation to obey a mangled constitution, the door will be opened for “liberators”. It could then be “a walk in the park”.
By Erika Tapalla INQUIRER.net "I'm a lesbian," Jane says, "but not by choice." Hidden under the name Jane, this senior Miriam College student admits to liking girls. Unlike many of the closet homosexuals, she's come out to everyone, except her family. Standing five foot two with silky shoulder-length hair, she epitomized the physicality of a heterosexual female. She even had ladylike manners during the interview, sitting primly cross-legged with her hands on her knee. "There was a stage in my life where I wore my brother's clothes and cut my hair like a boy but that's over," Jane describes, "People only looked." Psychiatrist Gina Mohnani, specializing in abnormal psychology and children's special needs, claim that being a predominantly Catholic country with strict religious and moral codes, people will always look simply because it is unnatural. "In today's society, we are already in fact being very accepting to homosexuality," Mohnani asserts, "If you look closely to the socialites and celebrities in the newspapers and magazines, they are always with a gay guy. In the malls, lesbians walk holding hands all the time. People look, but that's all." How a particular sexual orientation develops in any individual has remained a question marked in the field of science. Theories have been proposed offering various answers to the physiological roots of a person's sexual orientation, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, but Mohnani strongly disagrees to these. "Sexual orientation is shaped for most people at an early age through complex interactions of psychological, emotional and social factors," Mohnani says. Environment plays a very big role that if a young girl grows up to be surrounded by lesbians, or grow up to the idea that lesbianism is common, it would only seem acceptable to be one -- possibly explaining why lesbianism is more frequent in all-girls schools in the Philippines. Being in an all-girls school all her life, Jane feels that this assumption is valid and says, "I was never exposed to the opposite sex and only had friends who were attracted to the same sex. So I thought, it was okay, sanayan lang naman eh [It's just something you get used to]." Mohnani adds: "Lesbians aged 30 and below can be helped through therapeutic sessions where they can talk of their experiences and problems so they can more clearly identify with themselves and live healthier lives without fear or discrimination.” However, Lorna Q. Israel, an International Studies professor at Miriam College, associate of the Women and Gender Institute (WAGI), and advocate of transgender identities, laughs at the idea of ‘therapeutically fixing’ a lesbian. "How can they be re-oriented to becoming female when female, as a concept and in practice -- is heavily oriented to heterosexual female -- precisely why they found themselves in the lesbian term?" Israel says, "Lesbians are females who resist the heterosexual concept of a woman." Israel suggests that if there was any root to lesbianism, or any sexual orientation problem for that matter, it would be the labels society creates for us. Labels only create confusion, discrimination and other problems. "Every one must be respected regardless of their sexual orientation. Any labeling is an exclusionary act," Israel points out. "I would never tell my parents I'm a lesbian or I like other girls," Jane admits, "They are very traditional and believe that man is made for woman and vice versa. They'll never accept me and make me feel like a sinner." Concepts of religion, man and woman, and their roles in society, have been handed down for many generations nearly forcing everyone to accept it and comply without question. Even Jane herself has trouble in establishing her role in her romantic relationship. Jane admits to breaking up with her girlfriend months back because she wanted her girlfriend to wear her hair long so she could wear her own hair shorter since she was the one who courted her, but her girlfriend wouldn't follow this rule Jane was strict about. Eventually, Jane's then ex-girlfriend grew her hair and they got back together. Beyond the labeling society and the Church imposes, there is further labeling involved in lesbian relationships. "You know how there is pink and blue. Pink is for the 'girl' in the relationship, and blue is for the 'not girl'," Jane explains, "I'm the blue one in my relationship but it doesn't mean I'm the 'boy' or do everything boys would do, 'cause I'm a girl." Israel claims, "Some lesbians will insist that they are women as a tactic to convince the homophobic public that they are also humans." Problems in lesbian relationships emerge because people obsess with labels and lesbian couples "try to mimic man-woman or heterosexual relationships because it provides the template of any relationship," Israel says. But it's the mimicking of this man-woman template that Mohnani cites to be "detrimental". Mohnani noticed that lesbians are generally more possessive than heterosexual females, and have higher tendencies to do anything to get what they want from their partners. In a study Mohnani encountered in the US, 80 percent of lesbians can still be attracted to the opposite sex. "I never tried to be 'normal' 'cause I'm not well-exposed," Jane confesses, "Maybe after college, things could change and I could like guys. Who knows?" This would then make Jane a bisexual. Still different and subject to discrimination. Having her own gender as unclassifiable, Israel states, "I am an advocate of fluid sexual identity. I don't like people being pigeonholed as one–heterosexual–or the other–homosexual. I am more comfortable in allowing people to choose whatever sexual orientation they want attached to their bodies but critical of those who unfurl that label that would promptly exclude other sexualities or identities." "It's hard to feel something you were taught was wrong," Jane confides, "I didn't choose to be like this." There are some females out there who are lesbians due to emotional and psychological problems deeply rooted in their childhood, as Mohnani asserts; and some simply because societal labels them as such creating even more confusion, as Israel explains. Regardless of what and who they feel they are, both Mohnani and Israel agree that they are human beings that should be respected and treated as human beings. Israel points out that instead of questioning the nature and existence of lesbians, maybe the question should be redirected to the people, "How can we help people not to be afraid of the lesbians?" To those like Jane, Mohnani stresses, "As long as you're happy, by all means, live your life because you only have one."