So I finally saw the â€œAmalayerâ€ video posted on YouTube and I just had to ask myself, what the heck was the big deal? Why did this video go viral? Itâ€™s not even funny and thereâ€™s no way to tell why the girl, Paula Jamie Salvosa went ballistic towards the security guard at the LRT station.
Salvosa is currently the most vilified person on the Net by Filipinos because hundreds of thousands shared a video of her outburst. Most are quick to condemn her act without knowing the context or the details around why she raised her voice at the security guard. Unfortunately, the hate the video has generated showed an ugly side to our culture: most of us seem to have a mob mentality.
Judging by the number of people who posted angry remarks against Salvosa, it is safe to say that most Filipinos are quick to go on the attack mode without analyzing why they are doing so. This was also evident in the way they condemn former President Gloria Arroyo just because incumbent President Benigno Simeon â€œBSâ€ Aquino keeps telling everyone she is guilty of the charges against her. Without any evidence to support his claim, most Filipinos agree that she is guilty. But I digress…
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It is quite disturbing how Filipinos let themselves get carried away by footage taken without permission and taken out of context. Those who were quick to say that Salvosa was foul and disrespectful without getting the facts are being judgmental. I could not even hear what the guard and the others around her were saying. Her voice may have been louder than the rest but that could simply be because her voice is naturally loud. It seems to me that Salvosa is a very outspoken young woman. Itâ€™s not everyday that we see someone who can speak her mind.
When I saw the video, I could actually feel her frustration. Whatever the security guard did or didnâ€™t do is beside the point. The point is public transport in the Philippines sucks and anyone who has no choice but to take the LRT, MRT, bus, jeepney or tricycle can be pushed to the edge of sanity. Take riding the LRT and MRT for example, itâ€™s bad enough that commuters have to deal with rude passengers; commuters also have to deal with tough security before riding a packed train.
Going to and from work is simply not straightforward when you live in the Philippines. It is a nightmare even when you have a car and it is hell when you are using public transport. Before you can get from point A to point B, you have to deal with a lot of inconveniences. Like, who the heck wants their bags checked constantly? Not me. Itâ€™s an invasion of privacy. Why the heck is there a need to check people’s bags in the first place? Okay, they are checking for weapons that could put other peopleâ€™s lives at risks. But the thing is, whether it is at the LRT or at the airport, it is always annoying to be regarded as a terrorist especially when you know that the only weapon you have in your bag is a red lipstick.
The constant need to inspect peopleâ€™s bags is another indication that Filipinos do not live in a safe environment. This says a lot about the distrust Filipinos feel for each other. Those who have traveled abroad should know that other countries do not feel compelled to heighten their security in their public transport system. While in the Philippines, even entering a shopping mall has become comparable to entering Fort Knox.
Letâ€™s face it. The number of security guards and security checks Filipinos have to go through is a clear indication that Filipinos do not feel secure living amongst each other. This could be the reason why Salvosa had to keep asking, â€œAre you calling me a liar?â€
Salvosaâ€™s act of frustration complete with flailing arms, almost to the point of pulling her hair out, could also be a sign that she had it up to her eyeballs dealing with the idiocracy of the country. Like what I said in my previous article:
We all know that behind the facade of smiley faces, most Filipinos have their own collection of tales of woes ready to be told. From oneâ€™s daily harrowing experience on the road going to and from work dodging potholes and irritable, unruly motorists who, if you are lucky, may even slap you in the face or if you are unlucky, may lodge a bullet in your brain. Even more distressing is the experience of dealing with neighbors who find a way to invade your privacy in the most blatant way possible; or for some, dealing with relatives who give new meaning to the word mooching. Experiencing these things on a regular basis could drive people over the edge, indeed.
The condemnation of Salvosaâ€™s act could be because Filipinos are not used to seeing someone who openly questions authority. Most Filipinos are more used to people behaving like herds being shoved into their cages for the slaughter. They condemn Salvosa for being â€œdifferentâ€ and for standing up to her rights.
Likewise, it seems to me that the condemnation of Salvosaâ€™s act has more to do with her speaking in English. Filipinos can be very sensitive to the way their compatriots speak the countryâ€™s second language. While most members of the international community would understand it if we do not have the right â€œtwangâ€ when we speak English, most Filipinos are very particular about the way their compatriots pronounce the English language. One wonders again if Filipinos hate each other, because people from other countries who speak broken English do not make a big deal about it. Why are Filipinos so tough on each other? It doesnâ€™t even motivate some of us to go for excellence. It actually makes some feel self-conscious and completely forego being more proficient in English.
Obviously, Salvosaâ€™s haters didnâ€™t like the way she chose to express her disgust using the English language. There is something to be said about Filipinos who make fun of their compatriots who prefer to express themselves in English. Some would say that people who speak in English are being snotty. Others would even say that Filipinos who use English in communicating are being unpatriotic. Never mind that proficiency in English can actually provide individuals with a better future. One can be forgiven for thinking those who say these things just canâ€™t keep up with the rest of the English-speaking crowd.
Having said all this, that Amalayer video is a big deal because it did reveal a lot about us Filipinos as a people. It is not just Salvosa who is in the spotlight, unfortunately. The person who took the video and the people who shared it and made fun of her are all under scrutiny. Those who think they have the moral high ground should think again. Bullying and harassing someone on the Net is wrong too especially when there are two sides to every story and only one side is highlighted.
Unfortunately, after all the brouhaha, this #Amalayer circus will not even improve the public transport system nor improve the behavior of the passengers. If they really can’t stop cyber-bullying, Filipinos would be better off doing it to their public servants instead of people like Salvosa. And maybe, just maybe, they would be compelled to do something about the country’s decrepit public transport system.
[Photo courtesy Trip Advisor.]
In life, things are not always what they seem.