The Internet is forever | Inquirer Opinion
At Large

The Internet is forever

“Angel” is the name chosen by a transgender “talent” who earns by entertaining clients online with sexually suggestive “performances.”

There is nothing new about Angel’s revelations or performance. Indeed, news of cybersex transactions involving young Filipinos, male and female, with a global clientele has been circulating since the early 1990s.

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What is new, though, is that the nudity (partial or full body) has been supplemented by more unsavory practices, such as defecating and urinating or worse, asking the performer to eat or drink the poo or urine. (And I’m sorry if I’ve just spoiled your breakfast!)

That clients have moved from cheap sexual thrills to more scatological fascination is an indication of the increasing boldness of clients and “talents” in this worldwide trade. Once again, we are confronted with the awful truth about the human condition: that no matter the extent of our technological advances, we still tend to use these for the basest, most reprehensible purposes.

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One shocking finding, conveyed by a friend in the women’s movement, was that in many of the cybertransactions, the girls’ (still the majority of the victims) mothers were actively involved as pimps and coaches. “Some mothers would even urge their daughters to show more flesh,” my friend said.

Apparently giving a measure of comfort to the mothers and daughters was that the young women were not being “touched,” that is, they did not have to engage in sex with their clients, and thus remained, technically, virgins. This, even as they were earning in dollars.

But I wonder what comfort the cash could bring them if they were forced to eat feces or lick urine while the fetishist enjoyed himself (most clients are male) to the hilt.

* * *

What many forget, too, is that, as a movie character declared: “The Internet is forever.”

As many a celebrity has found, once a tweet, a blog, a video or picture is shared online, it remains there forever, or for as long as the Internet exists. No matter how zealously one erases one’s posts, or goes through sites that may contain them, a trace of it will always remain, “downloadable” anytime, anywhere, by anyone.

Imagine moving on from one’s cybersideline, marrying and bearing children and adopting the new identity of a solid citizen only to find your child discovering your past proclivities the first time he goes online.

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How do you explain your mouthful of poo to the child?

And the thing is, as Angel discloses, the performer who is asked to do all sorts of degrading practices doesn’t even get a fair share of the money earned by the website. And to keep performers like Angel hooked on the trade, their share of the money rises the longer they stay in the racket, and the more willing they are to cross the line of taste and decency.

Angel may eventually fulfill her ambition of earning a college diploma, but she may find her cyberadventures haunting her long after she needed to raise the money to finance her dream.

* * *

Heard from Fr. Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila, the social action arm of the Archdiocese of Manila, reacting to Friday’s column on “Rise!” a benefit concert for the victims of Super Typhoon “Yolanda.”

“Rise” sought to raise funds for the construction of churches and chapels in the areas devastated by the typhoon, acknowledged as the strongest and most destructive weather disturbance ever in history.

“So far,” says Father Anton, “we were able to reach P23 million in net proceeds,” enough, he notes, to build 20-23 chapels in Samar and Leyte. In each area where a chapel is built, adds Father Anton, the structure will serve a “three-in-one” purpose, as a place for worship, for skills training and as an evacuation center strong enough to withstand a Category 5 typhoon.

“The chapel is God’s presence for the victims and a rallying point of the barrio community,” the priest adds.

Held last June 11 at the Manila Cathedral, “Rise!—Rebuilding from the Ruins” was a benefit concert featuring the ecclesiastical and religious works of “Mr. C” or Ryan Cayabyab, who was honored with an “Ecclesia et Pontifice” award from the local Church for his work in promoting the faith through music.

There is in fact a “clamor” for the staging of “Rise! Part 2” from the public and the artists who took part in the concert, Father Anton says.

* * *

In that same column on “Rise!” I made mention of the standing ovation that greeted the performance of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio “Chito” Cardinal Tagle, who sang the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi from Mr. C’s “Mass for Peace.”

It wasn’t just respect or loyalty that brought the audience to its feet. Apparently, Father Anton says, describing the cardinal as the night’s “star performer” as well as the inspiration behind the whole project as chair of the Board of Caritas Manila, Cardinal Chito has long been an ardent music lover and singer.

“In San Jose Seminary during the 1980s,” Father Anton writes, “the Cardinal (who was then a seminarian) was the musical director of his class and of the whole Seminary community.”

In addition, Father Anton says the Cardinal “sings, reads musical notes, composes and conducts the choir.”

Well, it’s good to know the local church is led not just by a man well-versed in liturgy and spirituality, but also by a man of many parts—love of music and song being just one of his many valuable traits.

Cardinal Chito is also, apparently, a man of humility, who saw beyond his own stature and title and decided to join the other artists and contribute his share to raising funds for the Yolanda survivors, as well as to pay tribute to “Mr. C’s” many artistic achievements. Music is prayer, indeed!

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TAGS: cybersex, internet, news, Technology, transgender, women
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