I caught someone on ANC (the ABS-CBN cable news
channel) this morning saying that the Viva Hot Babes’ sexual fantasies magazine
(or is it a calendar?), while giving the aforementioned babes the right to
self-expression, could also trigger disrespect for women. It is on display in
public newsstands, and I’ve heard complaints that children can see it and it
could put strange thoughts in their

I was a bookworm when I was a
child. I read everything. I read Harold Robbins’ The Betsy when I was in third
grade and skipped the sex scenes because I couldn’t understand the word
“cocksucker.” And what they were doing weren’t as interesting as the lead guy
getting beaten up. My mother never talked to us about sex. She did tell me not
to watch too much Star Trek. And when she bought the Encyclopedia Britannica for
my sister and I (and even had shelves built to hold them, and to frame the
Perpetual Mother of Help draped with leis of dried everlasting and sampaguita),
I read about procreation, anatomy, and these snails that shot “love darts” of
semen. It was all amusing, but not arousing. The part of my brain tasked to
release chemicals for arousal was still under construction.

I’ve seen children dance like
miniature strippers, to their assorted relatives’ applause and approbation, and
they have no idea what they’re doing. They’re aping. It’s a survival mechanism.
Children that are liked by the tribe get fed and don’t get left behind when the
sabertooths come hunting.

always an excuse. It’s the government. It’s the rich guys. It’s my parents. It’s
fate. It’s Jesus, blessed be his name, who wants me to suffer. It’s the other
poor guy next to me who just took what should have been my seat on the jeepney.
It’s not my fault I raped her. I just came from a porn movie. I just read a porn
magazine. She was just there in her housedress with holes where there shouldn’t
be. She was just there playing with her doll. She was just there sleeping. She
was just there.

It’s the same argument
for guns. It’s the same argument for beauty. Guns don’t kill, people do.
Magazines don’t rape, people do. We need to stop excusing ourselves from the
argument. We need to raise children with emotional and intellectual discernment.

I think of my mother. She was poor. We
were poor. Growing up I thought people ate twice a day and got new clothes only
for Christmas. But she never excused herself. Somehow, there was always money
for tuition. Sometimes there was even a little extra for book sales. And if
there was any self-pity, I never noticed.

The real obscenity is not taking full
responsibility for what we read, what we think, what we see, what we say, and
how we live.