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Queerness of Identity in the Philippines in Edith Tiempo’s The Chambers of the Sea

Queerness of Identity in the Philippines in Edith Tiempo’s The Chambers of the Sea

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Each neighborhood, society or people is special with its identity. Variety of elements comprise the complex surface area and endodermis of a neighborhood. Standards, morals, culture, history, economy, hegemony and males, individuals and females alike pull and press in impacting each other. Typically, individuals who develop and perpetuate the unpredictable standards, morals, culture and hegemony might emancipate or jail individuals who develop the extremely exact same order. Resistance to it or extrication from it might indicate an ostracism or nasty name-calling. Anybody who breaks the existing ends up being a victim of a totalitarian culture. Culture ends up being bipolar. It supports yet likewise produces stitches of discomfort. Individuals are left either to subserviently follow to belong or to extremely combat versus to suffer. Or will we state, a rebelling individual in an overbearing culture faces what Helen Cixous calls “castration or decapitation” for not supporting the dominant culture.

Among the most typical pesky social buildings is human identity. Somewhere else on the planet, individuals are divided, identified, evaluated and anticipated according to their sex, standard and anatomy. The problem of female versus male. Each sex is stereotyped according to social expectation. Males are figured to be strong, logical, rational, smart, supplier, masters, directly, brawny while women are weak, unreasonable, illogical, idiot, receivers, servants, sexual items, psychological and even worse, mistreated, silenced and made evil in various media and literatures. If an individual is neither a male nor a woman,

However what. If an individual opposes all the anticipated function or identity based from normativity and performativity as determined by society, what. We think of the worst. The victim ends up being susceptible of the criticisms of society where she or he is rushly and roughly evaluated evil, unusual, odd, impure, unethical or “queer”. This is where the author positions his paper in totally comprehending the extremely vibrant, introvert life of Edith Tiempo’s questionable character Tio Teban in the narrative “The Chambers of the Sea” (Tiempo, 2009).

Usually, queer is specified as anything that is unusual, odd, unusual or anything that defies or questions a dominant culture, standard or habits. In the Philippines, to be queer amounts being weak, soft, various, weird or perhaps instant conclusions to being gay or a homosexual.

Numerous scholars thought that society’s concept about sex is deeply instilled on the minds of individuals committed and perpetuated by social organizations such as school, church, household and others. Queer theory difficulties this social formulas to comprehend and endure sexual or gender identities beyond the misconstrued-passed-on beliefs on sexual classification.

The theory and practice of queer criticism is based upon challenging or questioning, exposing the classification of sex and gender resulting in a person’s identity. Identity can not be repaired and is not repaired. Problems of performativity and normativity in relation to sex and power, resistance and gender relations are likewise tried.

In the Philippines, the household, the church and the school are actively taking part in producing, repairing and classifying gender and sexuality. Option of colors for the kids’s clothing would indicate sexuality. Blue for the kids and pink for the women. A mismatched of colors would indicate destructive analyses resulting in identifying such as lesbian or gay, as if kids and colors are associated with their sexuality. Kids are informed that playing dolls are for women and soldier toys are for the kids when they grow. Young boys do not sob, dads would state to their young kids. Implicitly, they state that only women sob. And these are moved from generation to generation. There is constantly a strong classification in the Philippines loaded with do’s and do n’ts for the kids and women as they are bound according to social classification, sexuality and their performativity. Anybody who stops working to support, anybody who deviates, anybody who does not support the dominant culture of the males is identified homosexual or gay with Filipino ranges of bakla, bading, badaf, shoke, Darna and other denigrating names.

The story Chambers of the Sea by Edith Tiempo sublty and delicately illustrates a male called Teban Ferrer or Tio Teban (Uncle Teban), as resolved by the storyteller who grows from Bangan and his diaspora to Dumaguete, whose maturing and ultimate maturity is taken into a test, interrogation, suspicion and examination based from his sexuality or normativity and performativity. The haunting concern whether Tio Teban is gay, homosexual or queer is focused in the lens of queer theory and analysis.

Tio Teban remains in the middle of strong binary revers where characters are anticipated according to performativity and heteronormativity. His household from Bangan, with its huge land, on the left force and his newly found household with his cousin in Dumaguete on the. His household includes strong males: his dad who dislikes Tio Teban’s womanish behaviour, Antero, his brother-in-law who physically tills the land of the whole household and his sibling Quirina who desires him to continue his dad’s tradition of the land. The social expectation of Tio Teban’s household is high based from his expected efficiency as male and heterosexuality.

In Dumaguete, with its limitless sea, Tio Teban has more solace with the softer, weaker environment. His cousin Amalia is a common homemaker who carries out social function according to her sexuality, a mom to 4 kids. Usually, Amalia’s functions are reached Tio Teban when the previous runs for household errands. His partner’s partner is a passive male who never ever concerns his behaviour for he displays a peaceful male who offers.

Amalia’s honest-to-goodness rowdy kids slam and question Tio Teban’s various behaviour. Their ill-humoured laughter resembles Tio Teban’s instant household who roughly condemns his queerness. Since he does not carry out and he protests the standard of a common male, as anticipated he was small to a weak, odd and slow person. Psychologically, they are lashing him out for his queerness. His dad, who is expected to comprehend him for who he is, is the very first to ostracize him. His judgement is based from Tio Teban’s “womanish personality” and might not forgive his only boy for ending up being so like him in appearances however rather unlike him in his methods (p. 103). Tio Teban’s dad has contempt on his disposition to cultivating a rose garden, painting and drawing utilizing watercolours, his walking in the countryside, his continuous reading of literatures, his stature and squinting in his eyes. All these are beyond his dad’s approval.

However above all these artefacts, do we see him strike back versus his household even if they upset, dislike and even knock him for being various for stopping working to “please their self-centered desire” of desiring him to be that he is not. He felt broken and exposed. From an issue in between “battle or flight”, he selects a peaceful, undaunted choice of leaving his household in the pursuit of graduate research studies in Dumaguete where he effectively ended up a Master’s degree in Government. It can be obtained from a mental perspective that he displaced his quiet disobedience versus his household into scholastic pursuit where his household might not reach him in the intellectual and psychological airplane. He selects his fight with an intellectual beauty versus the rough furrows of the land. His identity, though various, unusual and queer from the judgement of his household and the kids of Amalia, Tio Teban mores than happy with himself. His identity for himself is not a concern, not a concern, not an issue however rather an option. When individuals when again question and assess him according to his sex and function, his stature just ends up being beleaguered. In this text, Tio Teban ends up being a good example of a positivist existentialist who discovers joy in the middle of individuals’s excessive fixation of his identity. He selects as he pleases without individual qualms. He has no id on the other hand with the popular concept. Their concept is likewise impacted, affected and covered also by socially built developed criticisms versus not-so-typical male like Tio Teban. The concern on what he is performing in his space in Dumaguete is more of an individual self-questioning in regards to economics. He, with an MA degree, stays docile in his cousin’s home. He is once again required by society to work according to his heterosexuality. The option is his.

Suspicion of his identity versus his individual option rather than the social expectation and labelling of his besmirched gender identity goes through a test ending in a crystal clear significant close of the story. He got a letter on the death of his dad. Tio Teban ended up being a personality with 2 faces as he goes to the sea. He summons his sorrow yet discovers joy on believing on the death of a daddy who is significantly prejudiced versus him. Without his dad, there is more of himself, liberty. The hegemony of power wielded and produced by his household just oppresses him. Therefore, with his dad’s death there is more individual emancipation from the interfering household and social expectation instead of lamentation. The queer ends up being clear. He rejoices on his real self. He is neither a female nor a male; neither a legendary merman nor a mermaid however an individual. He mores than happy of what he lacks a label. His queerness, from individuals’s understanding, is just a misconception. All the world is a phase, and individuals have various functions to play. A guy requires to be delighted whether with a small or a significant function in this huge world of identities just built by females and males. As the storyteller clinches it “A minimum of Tio Teban understood something for himself as he turned and strolled quickly away.” Tio Teban is “He is what he is” a hierros gamos, a union of male and a woman; homosexual neither not gay however an individual with a selected corner in the sky, with a specific niche in the land and has his own “chamber in the sea” … 


Con Davis, Robert and Ronald Scheliefer. (1989 ). Contemporary Literary Theory: Literature and Cultural Research Studies. New York City: Longman, Inc. 

Tiempo, Edith (2009 ). “The Chambers of the Sea”. Montage: Anthology in Philippine Literature in English Manila: PNU Press.

Queerness of Identity in the Philippines in Edith Tiempo’s The Chambers of the Sea
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