The pig wipes off its lipstick

The trouble with swinging a pendulum hard in one direction is that it will eventually swing back in the opposite direction just as hard. In the Philippines, the pendulum has swung from one end to the other hard all within less than a month.

Within days of the “heroic” triumphs of Manny Pacquiao and Efren Penaflorida, both of which sent Filipinos on a massive worldwide love-in of back patting and pride mongering, a dark cloud descended upon the fiesta and let it pour. Just like that, a big red splotch goes splat over the glittery little stars that Pacquiao and Penaflorida pinned for us over the island group labelled “the Philippines” on the world map.

Last Monday the Inquirer.net reported:

TACURONG CITY, Sultan Kudarat, Philippines – (UPDATE 3) At around 10 a.m. on Monday [23 Nov 2009], vice mayor Ishmael Mangudadatu of Buluan town in Maguindanao received a call from his wife that at least 100 armed men were holding her and 50 others, including 34 journalists.

Most of the 50 have since been confirmed dead, all gunned down at close range. The prime suspect of the moment is Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr, whose family controls a big chunk of Maguindanao province.

On second thought, I find my use of the analogy of the red blood of these victims staining the glitter in our short-lived moment of “heroism”-fuelled glory a bit flawed. That analogy implies that this weeks-old glory stood tall only to be overshadowed by Monday’s tragedy. I think it is the other way around. In Philippine society, it is actually human tragedy that is the imposing pig defining us as a people (and not heroes like Pacquiao and Penaflorida) on whose lips we continuously apply a coat of lipstick every now and then.

The Maguindanao massacre simply adds to the size of the proverbial pig we keep trying to apply lipstick on. And to put things in perspective is to remind us of the nature and size of this animal that we pretend isn’t there in good times and express “shock” upon seeing whenever it rears its fat head. Fourty six dead (last I heard) in Maguindanao adds to the body count of preventable Philippine tragedy — two hundred in the aftermath of Ondoy flooding, thousands more in deadly mudslides, and tens of thousands in ferry tragedies.

What is new about politically-motivated killing in the Philippines? Nothing, actually. What is shocking about this recent one? Perhaps the number of people — particularly the number of journalists and lawyers — involved in one go (our definition of “shocking” is whatever the Media tells us is). Yet, fourty six dead is a tragedy dwarfed by what one researcher estimates to be at least 10,000 Filipinos killed during the Marcos regime. Has anyone of consequence been punished? The answer to that question (or the more obvious lack of it) becomes relevant when we now consider what happens next in the aftermath of this most recent atrocity.

Perhaps our consistent inability to answer the question What’s next? is why the Inquirer.net in its infinite wisdom as an influential thought leader of our society seems to have found something newsworthy about a litany of “calls to justice” (mainly directed at President Gloria Arroyo) issued by a who’s-who of the top Filipino bozos, many of whom were reported to be “shocked and outraged”. And here are some of the “solutions” they came up with:

Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr: “authorities should immediately arrest Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. on the strength of the evidence supposedly pointing to him and his men”

Brilliant.

Prospero Nograles: “[Malacanang should] drop all political considerations” in leading government efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice

Political considerations? What’s that?

Noli de Castro: “These barbaric acts have no place in a civilized society”

Depends on your definition of “civilised” society. I think the Philippines has redefined the concept to suit its own “standards” years ago. Perhaps try googling “lola basyang’s standards” and see what results pop up.

This one, reportedly said by Satur Ocampo, is priceless:

the killings also showed the administration’s “utter incompetence” in preventing the proliferation of armed groups.

Er, there is the small matter of your link to the New People’s Army, Mr. Ocampo…

Last but not least, Gilbert Teodoro chimes in again with what he believes to be the obvious next step: “Even if they are political allies, they should be punished if they are found liable”.

No, you are punished when you are found guilty, Mr. Teodoro. But only in this case, okay?

skulls

* * *

Perhaps Manny Pacquiao should hurry up and go beat the crap out of his next opponent on the ring underneath the bright lights of Vegas. That way, we can all go back to the normal business of being a “proud” people again.

About benign0

benign0 is the Web master of GetRealPhilippines.com
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18 Responses to The pig wipes off its lipstick

  1. BenK says:

    As I pointed out in last night’s broadcast, the world does recognize outstanding Pinoy individuals, but they don’t make the association between them and the country as a whole. Rather, they tend to look at it as an individual who excels despite the disadvantages of this country, so if anything it tends to have a negative impact on the opinion towards the Philippines generally. Thus when something negative does happen (I realize that’s putting it mildly, but let’s face it, this case defies description of its horror), it just reinforces the overall negative perception.

    Do you Filipinos find that unfair? I would imagine so, but that’s the way it is. You want to change perceptions, you have to change the reality that other people perceive. Allowing warlords to slaughter women and journalists, and then compounding the problem by appearing to be completely flummoxed as to how to handle the situation is not the way to impress the rest of the world.

    • benign0 says:

      Indeed, perceptions do not change on command, and certainly not on the behest of crybabies.

      What makes people like Manny Pacquiao, Efren Penaflorida, Lea Salonga, et al remarkable is the country they grew up in — that such a shithole could produce such fine gems is indeed remarkable. So the irony that seems to escape those who would cite people like these as evidence of Pinoy “greatness” actually achieve the opposite and highlight our bleakness.

      The sooner we remove the stigma around embracing that bleakness that characterises Pinoy society, the sooner we open our eyes to the true nature of what needs to be done.

  2. Pingback: Condemning The Maguindanao Massacre | Better Philippines

  3. FreeSince09 says:

    Even by “filipino standards” a severe breach in ethical conduct amongst warlords have been broken(don’t laugh their is one). That lawyers, women, innocents(passerby’s and children) and journalists must never be harmed. This breach in etiquette has been breached,journalists in the field may be killed but a news story nearly always guarantees that even the most violent of trapos keep their tongues in check. Second, that womankind must never be harmed for that breaks a machismo bravado culture that prizes conquest. Third, that law must always be enforced even if for show.

    Also, their is this little thing about AFP psychological warfare. Don’t believe in everything they say .

    • BenK says:

      Of course. I didn’t know all the ins-and-outs of that beforehand, but there was a very good explanation of it in one of the local news sites (I think it was ABS-CBN, but I’m not sure).

      So, what has changed, that the ‘rules of engagement’ so to speak are now broken with impunity? If anything, it signals a complete breakdown in any sort of civilization in that area, and as we all know, that is by no means the only part of the country to which that sort of problem is limited.

      I read someone’s comment on another blog – a couple of them, actually – that called Maguindanao the Philippines’ 9/11. That’s crap. In our 9/11, the enemy came from outside and used our own stupidity against us. Here, you’re using your own stupidity against yourselves.

      And as a general policy, I don’t believe anything the AFP says.

  4. Pingback: Etiquette breach « Free2Think

  5. benign0 says:

    I read recently in a book by Malcolm Gladwell that the Appalachian regions in 19th Century Kentucky used to be vendetta capital of the U.S. with gunfights between warring families killing thousands over decades.

    Gladwell highlights this concept of ‘honour culture’ that some societies have that predispose them to more aggressive and often violent defence of personal and family reputations. He points out how the original settlers of those regions in Kentucky came from herding societies in northern England, Scotland, and northern Ireland. Herdsmen lead a very insecure life because of the ease by which livestock could be poached (compared to farmers whose products are far more difficult to steal in economically sensible quantities). Thus herding cultures tended to develop cultures that emphasize an aggressive cultivation of perceptions of ‘toughness’ in individuals and clans, building a kind of a mutually-assured destruction society similar to the easy peace maintained over the decades of the global cold war.

    They actually did a study on university students that identified differences in temperament between Americans from northern states and those from southern states. They actually found clear differences in the way the subjects responded to provocation (stuff like salivation, cortisole levels in blood, etc. were measured) with southerners tending to show elevated levels of aggressive feels more quickly and lasting longer after the (artificially induced) experimental provocation incident.

    Perhaps this also explains the war-like culture of the Arabs and the Mongol hordes. Don’t know if this applies to Philippine Moros, though (and the general sensitivity of Pinoy malehood to pokes against them as well) …

    • Conyo says:

      Yeah and Gladwell also believes that the success of people like Bill Gates and Bill Joy can be attributed mostly to being in the right place and in the right time.

      So this means that the Philippines is so fucked up because we are in the wrong place and in the wrong time. And when one reads “Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies”, it clearly illustrates that Geography pretty much determined the fate of the Filipino, or more accurately, this “Malay Race” who insists on naming itself after a long dead Spanish King.

      So why worry? Let shit run its course.

      See you at Starbucks 🙂

      • BongV says:

        Yeah and Gladwell also believes that the success of people like Bill Gates and Bill Joy can be attributed mostly to being in the right place and in the right time.

        So this means that the Philippines is so fucked up because we are in the wrong place and in the wrong time.

         I can imagine Thomas Edison answering:

        What it boils down to is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.

         Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.

        Restlessness is discontent — and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man — and I will show you a failure. 
        I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
        Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

  6. ilda says:

    Some Filipinos’ behaviour on Facebook is similar to those of Renee Zellweger’s character in the film Nurse Betty. Nurse Betty upon witnessing the gruesome murder of her scum- of-a-husband, “loses her grip on reality” and experiences what they call “fugue state”. She slips into fantasy world to escape the truth much like some Filipinos who continue to pretend things are still peachy. I wonder if this is also a case of temporary insanity or maybe a permanent one?

    • FreeSince09 says:

      We live in the fantasy world because if we didn’t we’d be a. rebels b. immigrants c. depressed. It’s easier to not look and be scared.

      • ilda says:

        If we embrace reality, the Philippines would be on the road to recovery, slowly but surely.

        Anyway, what’s so bad about being an immigrant? Humans and animals have been moving from one place to another since time immemorial. It’s a natural progression when a place has been ravaged by its inhabitants. Those who can go should go especially since it’s becoming crystal clear that it would take a few more thousand deaths before government officials are moved to do anything to uplift the condition of the country. Filipinos who live abroad can actually help the rest of the population in the Philippines to become more enlightened.

      • FreeSince09 says:

        True but ideas need and culture has to be transferred back to the country. Again, I don’t really think the guys that are going out are interested in bringing in the necessary counter-culture or tech.

      • Conyo says:

        I would rather hang out at Starbucks and pretend to be cool.

        I could also escape into the World of Warcraft and pretend to be an Elf.

        Reality is too painful.

        Ordering a Caramel Macchiato, now that’s easy!

        See you at Starbucks 🙂

  7. ilda says:

    Oh Conyo! You’re so bad, you’re gooood! You make Benign0 sound like The Pope!

    But, what’s this? No woman in your life? It looks like your computer game is weakening your libido. Or maybe it’s too much coffee? Too bad I don’t drink coffee and I hate coffee breath. So I won’t bump into you at Starbucks or any other coffee joint ;o)

    Ta-ta!

  8. Pingback: The road to the next “revolution” runs through Maguindanao | The Anti Pinoy :)

  9. BenK says:

    Of course. I didn't know all the ins-and-outs of that beforehand, but there was a very good explanation of it in one of the local news sites (I think it was ABS-CBN, but I'm not sure). So, what has changed, that the 'rules of engagement' so to speak are now broken with impunity? If anything, it signals a complete breakdown in any sort of civilization in that area, and as we all know, that is by no means the only part of the country to which that sort of problem is limited.I read someone's comment on another blog – a couple of them, actually – that called Maguindanao the Philippines' 9/11. That's crap. In our 9/11, the enemy came from outside and used our own stupidity against us. Here, you're using your own stupidity against yourselves.And as a general policy, I don't believe anything the AFP says.

  10. Pingback: Template disasters, the backhoe and why Andal Ampatuan is like Typhoon Sendong | Get Real Post

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