2010 – the year of the tyranny of the Starbucks-masa

What a year. We have a presidential candidate set to win by a landslide who is much-loved for his celebrity, is widely renowned for his lack of substance and has so far exhibited mediocre if not substandard statesmanship. I wasn’t talking about 2010, by the way. I was talking about 1998 — the year Joseph Estrada was elected President of the Philippines. Well, ok, we may as well talk about 2010 then. This is what makes punditry on Pinoy politics so easy. Its quaint sameness allows for much efficiency. There is really not much difference between (a) the two Filipino politicians that mark those two years and (b) the nature of the popular sentiment that determined the outcomes of the elections in those years.

As I’ve shown above it takes only three points to describe Noynoy and Erap in one go:

celebrity
lack of substance
substandard statesmanship

A recent development adds a fourth item to the list of fundamental characteristics that describe Erap and Noynoy — both refuse to participate in political debates. Well, you gotta admire men who choose their battles. They at least exhibit the foresight to reckon which ones they are likely to make fools of themselves in. In Noynoy’s case, his refusal to engage in debate and face his detractors squarely is politically astute. He doesn’t need to subject himself to the risk of doing so. The hollow-headed zealotry of his followers has pretty much secured his victory this coming May.

Indeed, while it takes three or four points to describe the men of 1998 and 2010, it takes only one point to describe their constituencies:

starstruck ignoramuses

As the turn-of-the-century Filipino philosopher Anastacius say in his bestselling Treatise on Pinoy Starstruck Ignoramity:

You are a nation of star-struck ignoramuses. You are easily awed by your movie stars who are usually nothing but uneducated, aquiline-nosed and light-skinned ******** picked up from some gutter somewhere. I have seen what these artistas illusionadas can get away with. They just flash their capped-tooth smiles and policemen let them get away with traffic violations; they bat their false eyelashes and customs officers impose no duty on their suspicious balikbayan boxes.

Worst of all, with the Filipino movie industry taking a nosedive, hordes of actors and show personalities went into politics. It is, as they say, the next best “racket”-there is more money to be made in the politicking business than in show business! (And what is this I hear that in the coming elections, more are jumping into the arena? Mag-hara-kiri na kayo!) How can you expect these comedians and actors, who only know how to take directions from their directors, to direct your nation? For them,politics will just be an “act”. No big surprise here, for they are mere actors with no original scripts to speak, no original visions to share. So what can you expect but a government that is a comedy of errors. Serves you and your star- struck nation right!

One difference between 1998 and 2010 that I concede is that 1998 was the year of the triumph of the Jolog-masa, while 2010 will be the triumph of the Starbucks-masa. Yet in both cases, it is still the same starstruckness that underpins things — the same philosophy of misguided popular sentiment. Noted Inquirer columnist Conrado de Quiros pretty much captures the vacuous vision of popular sentiment that characterises 2010’s masa:

At the very most, without GMA there, the sun will come out in the sky, the birds will sing in the trees, and the people will dance in the streets. Without GMA there, people, particularly poets and musicians, will stop dying of cancer, the lame will walk, the deaf will hear, the blind will see, and only those who can carry a tune will be allowed to sing in a karaoke. Without GMA there, the earth and sea and air will flourish and flow and murmur words of love, milk and honey will inundate the land in lieu of floods, and hope and generosity will spring from people’s hearts like oil spitting out from the sockets of the earth.

Indeed, it is a peachy vision of the future built upon the choice scapegoat of a people gripped by a debilitating victim mentality. To be fair to Erap, he did not run on an oust-the-incumbent pitch but actually built his value proposition of a presidency that the marginalised majority of Filipinos could identify with. What does Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III offer to his latte-sipping constituency in the way of a vision for the 2010 to 2016 Philippine National Government? I don’t really know. But this much I observed:

Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is a presidential candidate that enjoys cult status. His supporters are drawn to him on the basis of a largely (if not entirely) emotional appeal. As such, like most cult figures Noynoy commands a following of exceptional virulence. His followers act in an emotionally charged manner and are quick to judge those who are seen to be not “one of them”. One of them. Sounds a bit ominous, doesn’t it?

What then does it mean to be “one of them”?

Ironically, this is the question that most infuriates Aquino’s supporters. Because when one attempts to answer this question, one finds that there is nothing to work with.

Erap pitched his bid for the presidency in 1998 on his cult status. This year, 2010, Noynoy Aquino makes his bid on his parents’ cult status. In a perverse sort of way, both men individually encapsulate the sad story that is the history of Philippine society.

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About benign0

benign0 is the Web master of GetRealPhilippines.com
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8 Responses to 2010 – the year of the tyranny of the Starbucks-masa

  1. Chino says:

    Love the B-52 graphics. Let’s do the Rock Lobster. Oh I forgot, Filipinos have crab mentality already. 😛

    With candidates having an advantage in cult status, I wonder if the Philippines can be considered one big cult. Minus the Yakult. Nyahaha

  2. benign0 says:

    @ Chino, yeah, I’d actually like a T-shirt with that image printed on it. 😀

    I think if we will rely on one another to educate ourselves about democracy, it’s simply not gonna happen. Pinoys need some sort of entity that they look up (make tingala) to who will say the right guiding words before they will actually acquire the resolve to reform. Noynoy wastes his cult status by exhibiting zero substance and a null vision for his coming presidency. As Manilyn Reynes once sang, sayang na sayang lang

    • Kahlil says:

      hey guys 🙂

      i’m thinking, if only manny pacquio was an intellectual or rather inclined to intellectual pursuits, then we’d have what we’re wishing for.

      but seriously, i think it is still an individual’s own resolve or effort to get him/herself educated and propel him/herself to a better standard of living. it’s ones responsibility even. i just don’t see pinas “making bangon” in the next couple of years with everything working against its people. if another ninoy comes along, i’m sure he’ll just be destroyed like the last one. this here, AP, you guys, and all the other blogs that speak of the same message, is definitely a good thing. honestly, it’s done me a lot of good. but i suspect it is not enough. this message has to be delivered on all fronts not just from the internet but also from education, entertainment, the mass media and most importantly, leadership in politics. hopefully, the “great debate” reaches the kids in time. as for those who frequent this blog, i hope the message gets filtered into whatever personal endeavors they have and in turn influence others.

      as for me, i can’t wait for manny pacquio to actually start reading AP. i gotta do something for myself, now.

    • benign0 says:

      Mr Kahlil, indeed blogs like these cannot reach a big chunk of the masses. But I’m pretty sure it is reaching those who control the means to reach the masses — Mainstream Media.

      So it is really all up to those who hold the keys to the infrastructure that disseminates information to the masses — our movie producers, newspaper people, and celebrities. They have a huge responsibility to society. And many of them choose to use their power to spread stupidity rather than true wisdom.

  3. Pingback: Noynoy Aquino handlers desperately “protecting his lead” | The Anti Pinoy :)

  4. Conyo says:

    Benign0,

    Aray! Bumusina ka naman pardz.

    As always, I see your points. But as part of the “Starbucks Masa”, I compelled to offer a rebuttal.

    Just because the “Starbucks Crowd” (led by The One) says they are for Noynoy it doesn’t really mean they ARE for Noynoy. Confused? Ever been to a Born Again “Worship” service where people speak in tongues (the funniest shit I’ve seen in my life, really) and have spiritual orgasms? Its all bullshit. After the c@ck sucking of Jesus is over, they go “doublethink” and revert back to the self-centered assholes that they all are.

    Noynoy is a fad; a fashionable accessory that will easily be discarded when the novelty wears off. The “Starbucks Masa” are NOT seriously into politics or social progress–anyone who believes this is delusional. We are all about consumerism, fads, and ego-boosting activities. After all, isn’t that what STARBUCKS is actually selling? It never was about the Bloody Coffee, dude.

    Ask yourself: Why in Jesus F@cking Christ’s name would anyone buy ridiculously overpriced coffee when there so many people starving out there in the streets?

    So, my dear friend, I think you don’t have a good grasp of what “Starbucks Masa” is all about.

    Starstruck? Ignorant? Weak? NO!

    Selfish? Manipulative? Egomaniacs? YES!

    See you at Starbucks 🙂

  5. benign0 says:

    You got something there, Conyo. The Noynoy “brand” is a convenient accessory to wear to be in just like you victims of clever marketing hanging out at Starbucks. 😉

    In Da Pinas, it’s not about the politician. It’s about which politician is “in”.

  6. Pingback: The false platform of Noynoy Aquino | The Anti Pinoy :)

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