REFLECTIONS:  WHAT'S  HAPPENING  TO  OUR  COUNTRY?

MANILA, APRIL 8, 2009
(STAR) DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco - It’s Holy Week and it is a good time to reflect on things… like that controversial column about our being a nation of servants written by Hong Kong columnist Cheap Shot… I mean Chip Tsao. It didn’t bother me that much. It being Holy Week and all, I thought it even reminded me of our Christian teachings on how we should all be servants to one another.

Our Lord Jesus was called the Master but He would rather be a servant… washing the feet of his disciples before the Last Supper. The Jesuits call it being a man for others. In this context, being called a nation of servants would mean we have all moved to a higher level… now truly deserving to be called the only Christian country in the Far East. Too bad we all know it isn’t so.

OK… Cheap Shot claims his column was a satire and a practicing Jesuit he isn’t. But he also made fun of his own generation of compatriots who grew up on Maoist thought but are now growing beer bellies in middle class comfort with Pinay nannies looking after them. He was trying to be funny and we have lost our sense of humor.

I guess that’s his problem. Chitang Nakpil once advised me to use satire and irony with the greatest care on Pinoy readers. This was after I told her that a leading politician had thanked me for supposedly praising him when that was furthest from my intention. I wrote something tongue in cheek and the poor politician thought I thought he was being great. I recall that politician even sent me a bottle of wine.

So I guess being satirical or ironic has its risks and benefits. Cheap Shot earned himself the notoriety of a demonstration in Hong Kong and a ban on his entering the country. I got myself a bottle of wine.

I refrained from saying anything about the Cheap Shot controversy until now because I thought it was boring… Here we go again… We have been very touchy about this “maid” thing for years. Remember the dictionary definition of a Filipina some years back? Or a recent BBC satire that drew protests for supposedly demeaning the Filipina maid? Or about that Spanish chocolate cookies named Filipina?

I was hoping that the thinking Pinoys have more self confidence to know what we are truly worth to get all riled up by this. What really hurts is not the supposed satire of Cheap Shot but the grim reality of our condition that we read about every day in our own newspapers… being at the top of the list of most corrupt nations and just last week, among the nations with the dubious distinction of being named and shamed by the G20 for sheltering money launderers and tax evaders. Maybe that’s why madali tayong mapikon.

Oh well… at least I was not disappointed with the reaction of the thinking Pinoys. An on-line survey of ABS-CBN asked: How should Filipinos react if RP is described as a ‘nation of servants’?

A majority or 55 percent of respondents as of Monday morning chose to work hard toward attaining national progress; 21 percent to learn to accept it as a fact; 18 percent to strongly protest the insult, boycott HK products; and 6 percent to accept the apology offered by the HK magazine.

Last week, a reader, Leo Tecson wrote me that while he found it “insulting to us … most countries in Asia particularly the more prosperous countries view us as a nation of servants or even worse, the Japanese view us as the land of the Japayukis.”

Reader Tecson recalled that “a relative of my wife was appointed Ambassador to a neighboring country in the late 80’s and practically all the foreign diplomats in that country were asking the Ambassador’s wife for maids from our country. She felt insulted and ignored all the requests for servants.” I think she should have referred them to POEA… sayang yung lost opportunities for some of our people to earn more abroad!

Tecson continued: “This is sad since we used to be the most prosperous country in Southeast Asia and was second only to Japan in the whole of Asia. We Filipinos are talented, creative, and better educated than most Asians, foreigners who know us are perplexed why we do not progress. A Japanese businessman told me that he has been coming to the country for almost 20 years and found the Filipinos highly intelligent, he could not understand why this country doesn’t progress.”

I share Mr. Tecson’s conclusion that “we should not rage at Chip Tsao instead we should be raging at our politicians for turning our country into the sick man of Asia with a permanent 3rd or even 4th world status.”

In our Plaridel e-group, Pete Lacaba wrote: “I will have to confess that what bothered me about the recent brouhaha over a Hong Kong columnist’s referring to the Philippines as ‘a nation of servants’ was not what he wrote but the reaction to it. Somehow the reaction reminded me of the Spanish colonial government’s decision to put Rizal before a firing squad because he made fun of Spain as a nation of Padre Damasos.”

Ka Pete continues: “As far as I can see, Chip Tsao uses irony and hyperbole to make fun of everybody—the mainland Chinese, the Japanese, the Filipino domestics, and most of all, the Hong Kong Chinese, including former HK student activists who used to shout ‘Long Live Chairman Mao’ but who now belong to a ruling class that can afford to employ housemaids whom they terrorize and indoctrinate. Mas dapat ngang magalit ang mga Chinese sa kolum na ito, sa tingin ko.

“Political correctness is making it more and more difficult to practice the satirist’s trade. Maybe the Hong Kong columnist should have said ‘nation of kasambahays,’ para mas politically korek.

“Of course, I myself would probably be more comfortable with satire of the rich and famous rather than of the down and out—down and out na nga, pinagtatawanan pa. But, hey, we believe in free expression, right? And we should know how to fight satire with satire, di ba?”

The best comment on the matter was made by our National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose in a PhilStar column last Sunday. He argues that we should be “enraged - not at that Hong Kong columnist - but at the creators of this dismal miasma we call Filipinas. Do not kill the messenger who comes to us to tell the horrid truth about us.

“Ingest his message, then turn all that outrage, that vehemence, to the Filipinos who turned this beautiful country into the garbage dump of the region: the oligarchs, the Spanish mestizos, the Chinese Filipinos and the treasonous Indios who sent their money abroad instead of investing it here in industries to create jobs for our people.

“Then it is time for us to rail and condemn the crooked politicians who are the allies of these wretched rich who permitted the relentless hemorrhage of this nation’s capital.

“Revolutionary tradition? Ask those rebels why, after 40 years, these leeches are still feasting on our blood!”

Maybe we are getting too onion skinned for our own good. Maybe media is doing the country a disservice by paying attention to the non thinking hotheads who would rally or demonstrate at the drop of a pin. We all have to realize that the leftists would take any opportunity to undertake agit-prop operations and the best way to respond to them is to ignore them.

The more appropriate reaction is to ask the question: What is happening to our country? Reflecting on this should create enough sadness to commemorate this Holy Week.

Lenten sacrifice

As an ultimate test of his will power, a man decided to give up sex for Lent. Although not thrilled with the idea, his wife agreed to support him in this effort.

The first few weeks weren‘t too difficult. Things got tougher during the next couple of weeks. The last couple of weeks were extremely tough on the husband, so the wife took to locking the bedroom door and forcing the husband to sleep on the couch.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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