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Me Too!

The revelations of famous Hollywood movie stars of having been sexually abused and/or sexually harassed by famous producers and directors many years ago, came to some of us as a shock. The floodgate of accusations ensued after a number of women claimed they had been sexually harassed by producer Harvey Weinstein, causing him to be dismissed from his lofty position. A long list of celebrity sexual abusers has been exposed.

The oft-repeated question is why the women broke their silence after years, nay, decades. Many victims have come out, saying, “Me Too,” I have been abused.

They now boldly declare they were not only too shy to tell others what had been done to them, but out of fear that their abusers would block their dream of becoming movie stars.

Some of us have experienced being sexually harassed. Me, too, I have experienced, even as a 12-year-old walking down the street being touched on my front by an elderly person. I felt something was wrong but did not know what it was. And I was already a reporter when I sat at the back of a bus and felt the fingers of a man beside me creeping under my arm. I just stood up and went down the vehicle, right in front of the Manila Police Department. I did not have the guts to conk the harasser on the head and shout about his being a maniac.

Rappler.com related the story of Sandra de la Cruz who was sitting in a jeepney when a man slid toward her, stuck out his dick and masturbated. Sandra was shocked … “in public, broad daylight, I couldn’t decide what to do. I couldn’t yell, couldn’t say anything.” But ten years or so previously at age 16, she was walking in the street when a man stopped directly in front of her, unzipped his fly and took his privates out. “Until now, that image is burned in my brain,” Sandra told Rappler.

Girls or young adults today may already know their being violated by abusers. That no intercourse had taken place, only by touch, or by showing off their private parts constitute abuse. According to Rappler, the Philippines has laws regulating acts of sexual harassment such as the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, and the Revised Penal Code on Acts of Lasciviousness.

Quezon City is the first city in Metro Manila to impose penalty on street harassment. A Social Weather Stations (SWS) study in 2016 showed that three in five women were sexually harassed at least once in their lifetime in the city.

Punishable sexual gestures are also conducted online. Senator Risa Hontiveros has filed three bills or the “Tres Marias” bills which seek to criminalize online sexual harassment.

Rappler advises that victims of sexual harassment may file a case with the appropriate Regional Trial Court, or Family Court, which has exclusive jurisdiction over cases of violence against women.

The Philippine Statistics Authority provides assistance to victims of sexual harassment which includes counselling, referral to agencies offering professional help, and advice or options before the victim files a complaint.

Martha Langelan suggests in her book, Back Off! How to Confront and Stop Sexual Harassment and Harassers, that the victim should show that he or she is neither a passive object of lust nor a hysterical victim. For Langelan, aggressive responses might lead to the harasser becoming aggressive in turn, or dismissing the anti-harassment message.

Let’s have more conversation on the topic in subsequent issues.

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Now, for happier news: The Inner Wheel Club of Manila (IWCM) is sponsoring a concert dubbed “Celebration!” at the Okada Hotel at the Manila Bay Area on Jan. 20 in celebration of its 69th founding anniversary.

Freddie Santos directs the event which features The Angelos, the classical pop tenor multi-awarded group now elevated to the Aliw Awards Hall of Fame. They are tagged as II Divo, after the multi-national classical crossover male quartet originating from the United Kingdom.

The concert also features Cris Villonco, Shiela Valderrama Martinez, and Carla Guevara Laforteza – acclaimed Broadway lead stars called The Leading Ladies.

“It’s a celebration, so, at first, I thought we should have happy songs,” says Direk Freddie. “But since they have been singing Broadway, you know, theater songs, The Ladies wanted to include dramatic songs in our repertoire.” So the concert will be a mixture of happy-sad moments. Like, some say 2017 was a difficult year. So, we are putting up a concert that after the show, the audience will feel hopeful for 2018.”

IWCM’s beginnings are traced to 1924, when Margaret Golding, wife of Manchester Rotarian Oliver Golding organized the Rotary’s wives into their own service organization instead of just helping their men in their humanitarian programs. They named themselves Inner Wheel Club in reference to the Rotary’s logo, a graphic symbol of the wheel apparently because the members rotated in hosting their meeting venues.

The late Ambassador Trining Legarda organized the Inner Wheel Club of Manila (IWCM) in March 1949. The 69-year-old organization is headed by Elizabeth Tagle, three-time officiating president.

Freddie and Elizabeth’s partnership in the entertainment business goes a long way back – not for profit, says Elizabeth, but “to uplift arts and culture”. The IWCM’s “Celebration” concert is being held to raise funds for various projects including a sustainable feeding program, livelihood skills training, and medical missions for indigents.

Direk Freddie is happy with the performers chosen for the event. Cris Villonco is “feisty and very direct in her approach”; Shiela Valderrama is “charming softness inside, but steel outside,” and Carla Laforteza, “She’s my godchild, shamelessly extroverted, brings out all her best in her every performance.”

As for The Angelos, Direk Freddie describes them as “magical.” The Angelos is composed of four young men “with different singing techniques, you can spot them individually as the group is singing, yet at the same time, you hear just one, single, pleasant harmony.”

The Angelos is composed of PJ Gonzales, Johan Enriquez, Paul Jacob Enriquez, Gerard Bayot “with the powerful lead of George Tagle, who is more than giving for Celebration!”

To help support IWCM’s laudable projects, call 0917-5088858 for reservations.

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Email: domintorrevillas@gmail.com

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