When I was younger, one of my Lola (called Lola Puring) loved playing Bingo and she would often gather everyone in the house to come play with her, including me and Vanessa. It all started innocently with a recycled bottle for the numbers and one card each. It was all harmless fun until…she brought money into the game. I have never seen gambling before and by no means, is she a gambling woman and it was all just a game after all. But at the age of 6 or 7, I didn’t have any money (apart from money in my Elmo piggy bank). I don’t know how much I lost but from the light weight of my piggy bank, I gathered it was quite a lot lol. I didn’t really understand the concept of money then (I still don’t) but it was fun. I loved playing it especially with my Lola who lives several hours from Manila. I wish I could play with her some more now but I don’t know if she even remembers. I think she has dementia. She keeps repeating stories over and over when we talk with her but I would play BINGO with her over and over again if I had a chance. I’d gamble my time for one more game.
I felt I needed to write about this not only because I am a woman but because there have been so many times I felt I have been silenced in fear of saying something wrong.
Over the last several months, the world has been discussing the sexual harassment accusations and scandals surrounding some of the most powerful and well-known men of the film industry. Men we have grown up idolizing with posters on our walls, men we have respected for so many years and careers we have followed and still do. Men have run the film industry for many many years and often we discuss men as directors, producers, cameramen, filmmakers and leading actors. Men have been praised for and paid more compared to women. Men get the better roles and to be honest most roles in the film industry. It wasn’t until recently that women have been getting publicity in term of their roles within the industry that is probably down to the topic of gender equality.
Women have always been the supportive gender, never the leading. Women are expected to look pretty and be objectified because men say so. Women are expected to act in a certain way and never get in the way of men. But with these scandals and all because of a man named Harvey Weinstein, women are rewriting all the things they have never had the courage to do or say because they can. These brave women have been coming forward and finding their voices to talk about the most disgusting, most vile and most sickening things some men have been capable and frankly been allowed to do to them and their bodies. Forceful things. Demeaning things. Things we once thought were too taboo to talk about. Well not anymore. Women have found their voice and they are making a stand and as a woman, I find it so empowering and inspiring that this is happening right now.
I cannot compare myself to what these women have been subjected to and I will not imagine the horrific things they had to do for men like Weinstein. I am saying that all men are horrible human beings because that would be an exaggeration to mine and other women’s stories. But there have been things in each of their stories that I can relate to. Most of my relationships have been good but I have come out of them as someone I barely recognised and not in a good way. There have been points in my relationships when I have been called a liar because I was 13 and told his friends he showed me his penis and they, of course, took his side. A time when I found out that he had been seeing someone else behind my back like I could be replaced in an instant. The times when I said no and he shakes his head like I’m the one in the wrong. Or when I begged him to stay and he brushed it off and said ‘we’re just not meant to be, you’ll find someone else’ and then comes back 3 months later telling me he loves me and I took him back. I loved them all but looking back, I never realised how dependent I was to hand them over the control, times when I knew I was right but bit my tongue in the fear I will get shut down anyway. I always took the blame and I always took them back because I am willing to compromise my feelings so they’ll stay in the same way these women were petrified in losing their jobs so they chose to compromise also.
I feel so proud of these women and the change they are making to the world not only in defining gender but defining the power and influence of women. Six months ago, I ended a 4-year relationship with a guy I promised myself would be the one I wanted to marry. It was an amazing relationship and we had our ups and downs but we stuck by each other even though we were 3 hours apart for nearly 3 years. I ended it because he was moving to another country and I had to admit that it was not going to work out. He also told me that I never made effort and I should have taken his money and come visited him. He told me that I am in the wrong and we need to talk about this issue more often. I told him that I wish him good luck, I hope we meet each other again one day and then I broke up with him. I thought I would regret it and I felt so disappointed it ended kind of bitter but honestly, when I woke up the next morning, it was like a huge weight was lifted off me and I smiled so wholeheartedly.
Two months after that, the news about Weinstein came in and floods of women started to speak up and they continue to do so as evidenced by the Golden Globes last night. Six months on, I am writing to you about the influence of women and I can confidently say I made one of the best decisions in my life. I can breathe and laugh and I have never felt more me than I am today.
As Oprah said last night at the Golden Globes ‘A New Day is on the Horizon’ and damn I have a feeling we will see a lot of women in every new day!
I’m not perfect, don’t you mind
I’m not a winner, don’t go blind
I work hard and try my best
I do that and God does the rest
I think, write and draw
I am human not made of straw
I have soul and heart
I didn’t get the head start
They are angry, they never chill
They should start now or they never will
They criticise and continually speak
But they do not know, I’m not weak
I know life can be hard and it is short
Knock walls down and go build a fort
Just stand freely and let them see you cry
If they don’t want you. bid them goodbye
Cross the road, change paths and run
You can choose to be free and just have fun
If they can’t accept you for who you are
Ignore them, walk away, they will never get far
Just remember to have faith and hope
You will make it, you can cope
Just pray and hold the dove
Just remember to always love
You were holding my hand because you care
Keeping me safe, stroking my hair
You looked deep into my eyes then looked away
Like you wanted to speak, something you needed to say
You smiled at me and pulled me in for a hug
You felt so warm, you felt so snug
You told me that you fell in love
With an angel sent from the heavens above
You moved in closer and gave me a kiss
It was slow and gentle, a tender bliss
But the truth is, we’re not meant to be
This is all real, not our fantasy
So, even though, I want to be with you
I’m sorry but there is still so much to do
You got angry, ran away and just left me
I was right all along, we were never meant to be.