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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

entry arrow1:24 PM | Thank You for the Responses

It was, in the words of Dr. Mel Vera Cruz, who also happens to be a former teacher (and student) of mine, “appalling.”

She had written to me, like countless of others, feeling that the issue I had written about in the previous column—that of a fellow teacher threatened with assassination if she did not give her students a passing grade—was one of major repercussions in the life of our small city.

A major television network even called, and wanted to do a story. I’m of two minds about this: I am glad that the word has gotten around so effectively—because a widespread awareness of this evil in our midst was one goal of that article; but as a mass communication graduate, I know that news these days has become a commodity, and part of that interest may spring from a journalistic wish to scratch a tabloid-ish itch. Everybody, it seems, loves lapping up stories of the tragedy of other people. My only wish is that some part of that will translate to a form of advocacy or crusade.

The responses I have been receiving from many people seem to be spring from one common source: that of disbelief and outrage. Most of them also believe that the only right to do is to spread awareness. A student of mine, Nethaneel Sagun, wrote in: “ As much as possible let us not be silent about this.” And another reader by the name of Dondi chimes in: “ Really scary and alarming. But at least we’re aware that such atrocities are present in [our] community.”

I appreciate that, if simply because Dumaguete has a dark history of hiding its demons under a carefully managed façade of gentility—”city of gentle people” and all that—effectively shutting out all forms of discussion to address a festering evil. “There are things best left unsaid,” I am constantly told.

So you can only imagine all the festering restlessness frothing under this pressure cooker of “gentility.” Like a volcano really, threatening a future eruption that may surprise us all with particular viciousness.

Some say that eruption has already happened, in perfect Dumaguete slow motion, as we hear news of our city slowly becoming besieged by crime and what-not. It amuses and saddens me sometimes that for all our sugar airs and our “university town” pretensions, dear Dumaguete has become curiously linked to the utmost of sex (in the form of the “Dumaguete Sex Scandal” of some years ago, which is believed to be the mother of all geographically-specific porn made in the Philippines), as well as to the utmost of violence (in the form of the infamous killings in the early 1980s, a tale now reduced to whispers and continued urban legend). June Honculada-Portugal, all the way from New Zealand, writes: “What happened to the ‘gentle people’ in the City of Gentle People? This is unbelievable. I’m glad you wrote about this, Ian.”

There are others, of course. (Click on the comments link in the previous post to read them.)

Thank you for all the messages of concern. My beleaguered colleague thanks you all as well. And here’s hoping something will be done—and that the dark cloud will soon pass.

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