Wanted G.R.O.: a Fitting Gift for Women’s History Month

It’s halfway through March, but still, Happy Women’s History Month! I usually am not a big fan of celebrations like this, but I make exceptions for labor (May 1), books (April, July, November), and women (March).

We at the Schools Division of San Jose City kicked off our Women’s Month celebration with a donation program of this important, self-published book, Atty. Christopher H. Pobre’s Wanted: G.R.O.

The Author

I first met Atty. Christopher H. Pobre back when I was a school librarian at then-Constancio Padilla National High School. He is a grandson of the school library’s main benefactor. I would later learn of Atty. Bobb’s achievements as a former student of the school as an honor student and editor-in-chief of the school paper. He would then become a fixture at our Gender and Development programs, and, although we weren’t friends yet at this point, that’s how I figured out that he and I share similar ideologies, especially when it comes to gender.

More than him being a lawyer and an assistant prosecutor, I primarily look up to Atty. Bobb because he reads a lot of books. As a *basic* librarian, I have automatic bias for people who love books. But as I listen more to his talks and read his writings, specifically the tapang he exhibits, the deeper my appreciation and respect for the man goes. When he talks, you will feel the passion he holds for his causes. Be it his high school, journalism, education, literature, his job, his daughters – you can never question his dedication.

A few months ago, I first read the news about the conviction of an Australian criminal who did horrendous deeds to children here in the Philippines. As a new mom, I began to feel so scared about leaving my daughter. I began to feel once again that I want to keep my eyes on her at all times, to keep her in my pocket if I can. It was scary, and as an ordinary Filipino who has pessimistic views about our justice system, I don’t know what I can do.

That’s when I learned about Atty. Bobb’s new project, Wanted: G.R.O.

The Book

I’m a 90s kid who has seen a handful of Filipino movies (that aged like milk) from around that era. I have a very clear image of a G.R.O., and if you make me paint a picture of one, I’d tell you it’s big hair, bright makeup, a skimpy dress, colorful lights, beer, and smoke. Oh, and a riot between the main character and the maniacs at the cabaret.

That’s the first image that flashed in my mind when I read the title of Atty. Bobb’s new book. Immediately, I was intrigued. It worked. During the donation program, held at San Jose City National High School’s Library last March 1, everyone (at least those in a certain age bracket) sniggered when they read the title.

That was the “Gotcha!” moment for us. We were laughing, albeit uncomfortably, when we thought of sex work. It was a reflection of how most of us view the world’s oldest profession: as something to laugh about.

But Wanted: G.R.O. is not about sex work. It is an easy-to-read and easy-to-digest illustrated reference material about gender-related offenders. Designed to be read by ordinary Filipinos, it’s like a textbook that will help us determine if certain actions against us or actions we do are punishable as gender-related offenses.

Each section features a situation and individual we may be familiar with: a boss who makes sexual jokes, a tricycle driver who catcalls, a parent who sexually exploits their children online to make money, and more. Designed as case files, you will read what their “offenses” are and words they’ve been heard of saying. Then, the book discusses why or why not a situation can be considered a gender-related offense by law.

Why do I think Wanted: G.R.O. is such an important book? Not only will it protect future victims of gender-related offenses by explaining the laws to people who do not have a law background. The book also helps its readers think twice or thrice about certain actions that may be a gender-related offense.

For example, making sexual innuendos in the workplace used to be dismissed as “friendly jokes” but can now definitely get you fired. Those from older generations would angrily attribute the sudden treatment of these actions as gender-related offenses as pa-woke and a product of the evil that is *gasp* feminism, but since we have laws in place, all you can do is actually adapt to today’s realities. And today, these are considered crimes and offenses, so don’t go around complaining while calling people snowflakes and pushing for society to backtrack to the primitive 50s.

Okay, I digress. But you get the point. Everyone can be a victim of gender-related offenses, and everyone can also be a gender-related offender, a G.R.O. Atty. Bobb aims to minimize the risk of committing such offenses and this is why I can confidently recommend this book. Whether you’re a parent, a teacher, a librarian, a social worker, a guidance counsellor, a student leader, part of law enforcement, or a lawmaker, Wanted: G.R.O. is a good book that will serve not just you but the community you serve.

And while I said in the title that this is perfect as a gift for Women’s History Month, the book is for every gender. After all, everyone can be a victim, and everyone can be an offender, too. As the adage says, ignorance of the law excuses no one. So, don’t be ignorant.

Wanted: G.R.O. is authored and illustrated by Atty. Christopher H. Pobre, Assistant City Prosecutor at San Jose City RTC. For copies, you may place an order for Wanted: G.R.O. through his Facebook. For just PhP 400.00, you receive your own copy and also get to donate one to a library.

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