EN 11 - R51
Sirena: An artistic attack on machismo and the societal perception on homosexuality
Known for his music that grapples social issues, Gloc-9 creates another socially inclined song that scrutinizes gender inequality, especially towards members of the gay and homosexual community.
Entitled "Sirena", Gloc-9's song speaks through a homosexual's point of view and how he describes himself as a sirena, the Filipino version of the mythical mermaid. The song explicitly narrates the protagonist's hard knock life, from the gay tendencies he exhibited during his childhood years to to the physical and emotional abuse he received due to flaunting his homosexuality in the latter years of his life.
At the start of the music video, a young man in a duster (a feminine outer garment) was being dragged out of the house by his father. The father furiously questioned his son, "lalaki ka ba o babae? (Are you a man or a woman?)", to which the son replied, "babae po (I am a woman)". This earned his head a harsh dunk in a drum of water, thus coining the term sirena as a metaphor to illustrate how he was getting used to 'plunging' into the water, as punishment for exhibiting his homosexuality .
From the lyrics, it can already be said that the song denounces abuse and discimination on homosexuals. But more than anything else, the song attempts to discuss how homosexuals are like any other people, and implicitly states that they are equally important to the society.
The song is basically a situationer, a manifestation of how homosexuality is being dealt with in the Philippines and on how Filipinos respond to it. Based on the latest Global Gender Gap rankings by the World Economic Forum, the Philippines rank 8th among 138 countries in gender equality. This could have been good news, had the report included developments on the treatment of LGBTs (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders). However, it was only limited to determining gender gaps between men and women. It did not extend to responses towards the LGBT community, which could have opened the eyes of the public on the reality that some individuals do not experience equal rights contrary to what the report says.
Gloc-9 touches this aspect through the song's music video, where it is shown how drunk bystanders laugh and mock at the protagonist because of his sexual orientation. This, per se, represents the general response to homosexuals in the country - that homosexuality is a taboo in this society, that it is a cause of ridicule in most cases.
Gloc-9 incorporates this idealism which was dictated by the society (and by religion as well) in the lyrics as he asks the public: Ano bang mga problema nyo? Dahil ba ang mga kilos ko'y iba, sa dapat makita ng inyong mga mata? (What's your problem? Is it because my actions are different from what you normally see?). This part implicitly points a finger to the society and blames it for first, creating these so-called standards on a person's sexual orientation and second, for choosing to conform to these unjust standards.
Manlier than a man
The homosexual in the song is seen to have high regards to his father as he speaks of how he atempts to obey his father's orders of becoming a 'straight guy' (Tama nanaman itay, di na po ako pasaway. Di ko na po isusuot ang lumang saya ni inay), to which he fails to do so. The song then fast forwards to his adulthood, wherein the tables were turned. From the macho, brawny man who used to beat the young gay to 'cure' his sexual orientation, the father has turned into a thin, weak man who was diagnosed with cancer. In the video it can be seen that everyone in the family had lived separate lives and it was only the gay who returned to his father's side to take care of him.
In this part, the father left his son with a few memorable words, for which many consider as the most powerful line in the song: Di sinusukat ang tapang at ang bigote sa mukha dahil kung minsan mas lalake pa sa lalake ang bakla (Strength and courage is not measured through the physical aspect because sometimes, a homosexual is manlier than a man.).
This part of the song sparked emotions among its listeners as it produced a strong message to the public. The message conveys a subtle but bold statement that lashes the concept of machismo. It criticizes male chauvinism and it reiterates that brawn and physical strength do not make a person manlier, rather, something deeper than the arrogant and haughty aura that a stereotypical man possesses defines a true man.
Gloc-9 feels that the “true measure of manhood is how you accept and handle the responsibility that’s given to you regardless if you’re wearing pants or skirt."
"For me also, if you’re engaged in a worthy cause or something with a good purpose, you have every reason to say you’re man enough", he adds in an interview in Yahoo Philippines.
Since it was first released in August 2012, the song has reached almost 4 million view on Youtube and has caught the attention of the public partly due to its catchy tune and mainly due to the message of the song. It's amazing how a song was able to impart its message to the listeners while catching them singing to the tune of it. The unusual mix of artistry, and rebellion to the societal perceptions on homosexuals, has made it an artistic attack to the status quo.
According to Gloc-9, it is the first time that a song about a gay man is presented in a first person's point of view. This could be another reason for the song's instant popularity despite being released only two months ago.
Prominent members of the LGBT community such as Boy Abunda, an influential TV peronsality and Danton Remoto of Ladlad partylist, appeared at the last part of the video, which added glitz to it.
Support from humanitarian and LGBT groups have since then flown to Gloc-9 for his song while others think that the title of the song was derogatory to the image of the gays. Others were moved while others remained firm to their stand against the prevalence of homosexuality.
The song may have offended-slash-pleased some individuals but one thing was clear in this picture, Sirena was reactionary and Gloc-9 was able to touch , if not, shudder the emotions of the public, the LGBT community and even the conservative ones and was able to break the passivity on the way people react to social issues like gender inequality and gay discimination.
Maghirang, T. (August 17, 2012). Gloc-9: ‘Minsan mas lalaki pa sa lalaki ang bakla’. In Yahoo Philippines. Retrieved October 10, 2012, from http ://ph.omg.yahoo.com/news/gloc-9--%E2%80%98minsan-mas-lalaki-pa-sa-lalaki-ang-bakla%E2%80%99--20120817.html.
Remo, M. (November 3, 2012). Philippines ranks 8th among 135 on world gender equality. In Global Nation Inquirer. Retrieved October 10, 2012, from http: //globalnation.inquirer.net/16879/philippines-ranks-8th-among-135-on-world-gender-equality.