Intl. Notebook Nov 13 2021
STAR CHRONICLE WITNESS
When is a watershed not a watershed? When the water runs backward.


Above is a cover of National Star Chronicle from today in 1967 that references an event from our old HQ the Philippines. At that time the country, which has always had a problem with regressive males who view women as property, was going through a particularly bad stretch of gang rapes. In June of 1967, four men targeted, abducted, and, over the course of more than a day, raped a popular Filipina actress named Magdalena de la Riva. They freed her afterward, probably feeling safe from repercussions. Among the reasons were: they all came from influential families, men all over the country were getting away with similar crimes, and de la Riva probably would have to sacrifice her social standing and career to come forward.

But the quartet—Jaime Gómez José, Basilio Pineda, Edgardo Payumo Aquino, and Rogelio Sevilla Cañal—underestimated de la Riva's courage, and they also misread the mood of the Philippine public. De la Riva did indeed step forward, and the people were overwhelmingly behind her. The four men, as well as three accomplices who helped plan the abduction, were all arrested. After a sensational trial, convictions for all involved, and a few years of legal wrangling, three of the men who committed the actual rape were executed, with the fourth escaping his fate by dying of a drug overdose in prison. The proceedings were broadcast on Philippine national radio in May of 1972.

At the time the case was considered a watershed for women's rights in the Philippines, a sign of progress on the problem. The quotes in National Star Chronicle offer insight into the prevailing sentiment. One police official said, “These young hoodlums will think twice before carrying on the way they've been. The public is so enraged now, any would-be rapist knows he stands a chance of being torn limb from limb if he's caught.” But the problem persists all these years later, even despite a ramping up of penalties for the crime.

Recent backward movement on the issue is surely due to the fact that some influential people aren't interested in improving the situation. In 2016, then-presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte commented about the infamous 1989 rape of Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill, taken hostage by inmates at Davao Prison, “I was mad she was raped, but she was so beautiful. I thought the mayor should have been first.” Duterte was mayor in 1989, so he was talking about himself. He went on to win the 2016 presidential election, despite his comments. In 2017 he said he would congratulate anyone who raped a Miss Universe, and in 2018 he said Davao City had the highest number of rape cases in the country because there were so many beautiful women there. Needless to say, watersheds are not always what they're cracked up to be—especially in the Philippines.
 
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 26
1936—First Helicopter Flight
In Berlin, Germany, in a sports stadium, Ewald Rohlfs takes the Focke-Wulf Fw 61 on its first flight. It is the first fully-controllable helicopter, featuring two counter rotating rotors mounted on the chassis of a training aircraft. Only two are ever produced, and neither survive today.
1963—John F. Kennedy Visits Berlin
22 months after East Germany erects the Berlin Wall as a barrier to prevent movement between East and West Berlin, John F. Kennedy visits West Berlin and speaks the famous words "Ich bin ein Berliner." Suggestions that Kennedy misspoke and in reality called himself a jelly donut are untrue.
June 25
2009—Farrah Fawcett Dies
American actress Farrah Fawcett, who started as a model but became famous after one season playing detective Jill Munroe on the television show Charlie's Angels, dies after a long battle with cancer.
June 24
1938—Chicora Meteor Lands
In the U.S., above Chicora, Pennsylvania, a meteor estimated to have weighed 450 metric tons explodes in the upper atmosphere and scatters fragments across the sky. Only four small pieces are ever discovered, but scientists estimate that the meteor, with an explosive power of about three kilotons of TNT, would have killed everyone for miles around if it had detonated in the city.
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