If there’s one good thing I can say about president Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino, it’s that I can count on him to provide entertainment value while he goes through the motions of that role which he “accepted” in 2010, albeit reluctantly.
All this started of course, when BS Aquino made news because of a speech he made in front of high school students. In essence, he told them to be wary of ampaw candidates – those who lack in substance. And as my fellow GRP writers Gogs, Ilda, and Paul Farol have pointed out, the joke is on him because BS Aquino’s entire campaign and presidency can be handily summarized with that word.
Ampaw – a local snack made with rice that is hollow inside. So the slang connotation seems to take off from that.
Let’s define “Kaharian ng Araw”.
Literally meaning “kingdom of the sun”, it refers to a place in a short story written by Joel and Onofre Pagsanghan about two friends who venture off to find it:
Written in lyrical and captivating Filipino, Sa Kaharian ng Araw has a simple plot: the search by two friends, Ponce and Paolo, for the legendary Kaharian ng Araw. The two go for different reasons: Ponce is driven by the wealth, power and fame this kingdom promises, while Paolo goes because of his friend.
Their long journey takes them through three kingdoms— Kaharian ng Ulan, Kaharian ng Hangin and Kaharian ng Dilim, each of which cannot be passed unless a heartbreaking toll is paid to its king. In the end, Ponce, broken and alone, reaches the Kaharian ng Araw, the end of the journey for which he has traded everything he holds dear— only to be met by a surprising, spine-tingling revelation. . . .
I call the Philippines a “Kaharian ng Araw” for two main, simple reasons:
1) The sun appears yellow in the sky. Yellow is the representative color of BS Aquino, his party and his clan. Connect the dots.
2) The ending line of the whole short story easily captures the essence of Filipino society:
”Ang Kaharian ng Araw! Ang Kaharian ng Araw ay hungkag pala!” (The kingdom of the sun…is hollow after all!)
Soon after that speech of his, Sergio Osmeña and Miriam Santiago came out on opposing sides of the argument that BS Aquino is “an awful manager”. So the Filipino people, BS Aquino included – who, by the way, is the current “ruler” of this Kaharian ng Araw” we call the Philippines – can keep on talking about how their politicians are ampaw or not, and yet fail to see how empty and hollow their society is. Like a fish doesn’t notice that it’s in water.
Can Filipinos ever really disown the politicians they themselves elected?
Some Filipinos, it seems, insist on blaming those politicians for “transforming” from saints into something else immediately once they’ve been elected and assume office. One must remember that politicians reflect the very society that they came from.
So I guess it’s time, once again, to call in some wisdom from the late, great American comedian George Carlin:
Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well where do people think these politicians come from? They don’t fall out of the sky; they don’t pass through a membrane from another reality.
This is the best we can do, folks. This is what we have to offer. It’s what our system produces: garbage in, garbage out.
If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re gonna get selfish, ignorant leaders.
So maybe, maybe, maybe it’s not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here, like, the public.
It makes perfect sense: ampaw politicians come from an ampaw society. Filipinos cannot disassociate themselves from the kapalpakan of their politicians. They have every opportunity and every right to scrutinize them before they vote them, and even more so after they win.
But, instead, what do they do? They regard these people as infallible, unreachable, and immune to criticism. They don’t bother to check, criticize and scrutinize any semblance of a platform that their politicians have. They merely ask for a song and dance number, and a catchy slogan, and then conclude “oh, he’s the one” based on a warm, fuzzy feeling of being “relatable”.
And yet Filipinos don’t want to hear the truth about their society. Criticizing the Philippines is a cardinal sin, whether you are a foreigner or a Filipino, all the more so if you are the latter.
Once more, this time with feeling:
A society devoid of substance will allow politicians of a similar nature to govern them.
The Philippines IS an ampaw republic/society, plus it is a kaharian ng araw. However, the sun doesn’t shine here; the only thing that does in this wretched, hollow society is a substance akin to pyrite (fool’s gold). And Filipinos are fools, indeed, who take the glare and glitter of con men as genuine.
Get a grip, Filipinos. Even if not all of us are ampaw, the collective IS, so tough luck. We’re just going to have to deal with the reality that the ampaw drag the non-ampaw down to their level of stupidity and beat them with experience. So how can this be countered? The non-ampaw must match the ampaw in audacity, if not in number.
And yet they must remain logical and rational.
Want to say kapow to the ampaw? Then Filipinos must learn to accept their faults and then begin to make strides towards self-improvement as a society.
That is a first step, but apparently a very painful one. Filipinos have been refusing to do it for 28 years.
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