“So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there”
The Hollies He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
Hands up those among you who voted for anybody for 2012 CNN Hero Of The Year? The deadline was Dec 2, 2012. To quote Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off “Anyone ? Anyone?”. Now how many of you voted for someone in CNN Heroes 2009 or were inundated with emails to vote for Efren Penaflorida that year? Oh I see a lot more hands come up.In the interest of full disclosure, I never voted in the CNN Heroes online poll. For the record the winner for 2012 is Pushpa Basnet. All she did was be the difference between a child spending time inside a jail with their parents instead of under her personal care. I really doubt the Nepalese people had some weenie email campaign to fabricate her win.
I really have a problem with being told how to vote and when to vote. That irritation exponentially rises when the vote mandated on me is based on race. Maybe I am old fashioned. In the sense when I vote for something , my vote represents what I think is the best choice for the category being asked and not answer the question “which candidate matches your nationality”. Voting with some semblance of the topic being asked in mind is one of my quirks.
I thought Efren Penaflorida was great in terms of what he did. Something pinoys did not appreciate at the time and continue not to appreciate. Pinoys never valued somebody who educates at a grassroots level like he did. He is more hailed by pinoysÂ for being on CNN than for what he actually does. The KOD (Kiss of Death) though was him being linked with Angel Locsin. Not that there is anything wrong with that but it just gave him more credibility with the average pinoy. The problem with that is you are more relatable to the average pinoy the more your achievements and your mindset that sets you apart from them become more invisible. I will agree with the typical pinoy and say that Angel Locsin is beautiful. But face it, if you find a woman strikingly beautiful you made up your mind in about .0023456 seconds. In other words physical beauty is a criteria that requires no thinking. That is why a blog post from GRP’s own Ilda continues to get more attention as time goes by because of the relevancy of what she says in it. That Filipino movies hook you with beauty and make you stay with beauty. Leave your cerebral capacity at the door along with your firearms. As for the beauty of Ms. Locsin and where it fits in the overall scheme of things let me quote another brilliant blogger who I have read for years Doc Albert.
Labeling Let The Love Begin as an excellent movie is like saying Madam Auring could still get pregnant. (Ironically, it is the top grossing film on the year it was released.) The movie is fundamentally designed for people who are easily entertained. When asked about the quality of what they saw, these are the very same people who would enthusiastically attest “Ang pogi ni Richard!” or “Ang ganda ni Angel!” instead of saying their input about the film. It is a movie where you can allow the neurons in your brain to take a vacation during its entire running time.
Like it or not Ilda and Doc Albert seem to be saying that pinoys have absolutely no discretion beyond the superficial when it comes to producing and consuming indigenous cinema. I have no idea why there is an annual embargo on real movies just to force this putrid misuse of celluloid down our throats?? I have said in a previous post that our culture does not know how to compete with the best of best in the world. Forcing local products on the consumer base like our own unique brand of movies in December does not help in that mentality. That is not competition when you remove superior product from the market place even temporarily.
Filipinos by making CNN Heroes 2009 such a rallying point but totally ignoring it in the subsequent years triggers the “R” word. Racism according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.”
Like I said back in 2009 when I was bombarded by 4245 emails every week to vote for Efren Penaflorida or the Underground River or whatever pinoy,
Point being, we are celebrating an educator which is an admirable thing. It’s just that we have never done it before. We celebrate morons. People who thumb their noses on education. We had a former president who released a joke book about himself with transposed Polish jokes and it made him more popular. We don’t celebrate intellectuals in this country, we reward, celebrate and elect imbeciles. You are welcome to disagree with me if I offend you but better yet identify somebody of substance that the man on the street relates to that does not fit the grim portrait of shallow values I am painting.
What’s ironic about that statement is the Noynoy campaign was still in it’s infancy in November 2009. if you read the actual post I list the people this culture does celebrate. My point back then and still is today why should this country encourage people to vote for somebody who clearly is out of place in the pantheon of personalities who they do champion and value? This society values Tito, Vic and Joey, Erap, Richard Gomez and the Sex Bomb Dancers. Yet for some reason everybody was whooping it up for Efren Penaflorida??
As I also noted at the time, every single plea that I got to vote for him never mentioned one other candidate let alone what they did to be worthy of CNN Heroes. I don’t know about you guys but when my parents encouraged higher education I think one of their minimal expectations for me was that when faced with any vote as an adult that I give the other choices even a token sampling. The whole Penaflorida phenomena in a sense became like the annual Metro Manila Film Festival. Leave your cerebral capacity at the door. Let’s all confine our vote in terms of race and don’t even consider anybody else. Sorry but not giving someone the choices when they vote reeks of totalitarianism. Which is a lot like what some of us believe the libel portion of the Cyberact to be.
I admit I have not scrutinized the list of CNN Heroes every year since 2009 either but when I do look at it I see people who we would all be lucky to have in our communities. You can’t do anything about your race but you can do something about the people in your communities. Back in 2009 I highlighted these people from CNN Heroes 2009. Among the candidates this year a healthy sampling includes:
1) Catalina Escobar who deals with young children and their mothers in the worst communities in Cartagena, Colombia. She had God given gifts to be a successful business woman but she left it all behind to make an impact on the community.
2) Scott Strode a man who started a series of drug addiction recovery centers based on his own his experience on how he kicked his own demons away.
3) Leo McCarthy lost his daughter to an intoxicated driver. Instead of being overcome by grief and rage, he sought to improve the culture of his situation by building a relationship with the youth of Butte, Montana. The relationship helped springboard his message of the perils underage drinking and overall traffic safety .
Nothing is stopping you from reading these amazing stories of how good and impactful a human being can be. Nothing except the inherent racism that seems so dominant in our culture. That something is not worth paying attention to or learning from ” kung walang pinoy”. That is never said anywhere, except through attitudes and actions of the KSP nation we call home. When you read briefly about the three people from CNN Heroes 2012 do you see people? stories? lives? lessons? or do all you see are nationalities?
If one studied for even five minutes what CNN Heroes is about it’s really about how ordinary people can do extraordinary things with the lives of others.Â CNN Heroes was not looking for people who are more powerful than a locomotive or able to leap tall building in a single bound. The people nominated epitomize the phrase “Think globally act locally “. These people are the epitome of people who quietly go about helping out and making a difference in their communities. All of them are not expecting riches, fame or even worse public office. They do it for the love of community. They live out the lyrics of the Hollies song I quoted to start off my essay. These people are the antithesis of our pinoy high profile politicians. Pinoys had their chance to study CNN Heroes back in 2009 when one of their own was part of this noble effort. But just like many of our public servants they were in it for the wrong reasons. It was not to emulate or even appreciate the efforts of people that fit the CNN Heroes criteria. That is why this show for all it can teach us is ignored when it is not anymore about race. Once the hope of pansin disappears and only the learning and inspiration remain, there will be no pinoy audience. Pinoys are all about perceived similarities and not intrinsic value. It’s no wonder socially and institutionally we are a basket case.
In my debut with Get Real Philippines I said this concerning the pinoy obsession with American Idol 2012 featuring Jessica Sanchez:
The KSP mentality is a manifestation of low national self esteem. So we embrace the trivial and believe it’s meaningful. Then our embrace of that which I interpret as shallow and superficial gives us an excuse to be irrationally exuberant. The Pinoy wants international pansin anyway they can get it, short of what Cunanan did to Versace.
In the case of CNN Heroes there is a slight variation on that. We take the meaningful like CNN Heroes which is infinitely more substantive than American Idol and get irrationally exuberant not because of the substance that is present but because it has the element of international pansin. We just fake interest in the true spirit of CNN Heroes. Because we never have interest in substance. We will not look for it in a CNN Heroes edition that does not have that carrot of pansin. If there is no pinoy participation then CNN Heroes may as well be the Life and Times of Al Sharpton as far as the typical pinoy is concerned. In short , not even a blip on the radar.
I mention the concept of KSP (Lack of attention)Â several times during this piece but let me mention another K word: “Kapal”. The precise translation of kapal is thickness though it has a slang use in the context of being imposing or taking liberties with a third party. The pinoy will gladly chest beat over somebody they perceive as theirs on the international stage. Take that same stage like CNN Heroes or boxing’s heavy weight division they will not reciprocate the attention to a deserving individual or country. They want the world to notice them but they won’t notice the world. It’s always a one way thing. I am sure you have that type of person in your office. The one who is always “look at me!!!”. Yet they would not be capable of learning the multiplication tables if it wasn’t taught to them in school.
There are people among us now that have the CNN Heroes spirit even if they don’t have the label. That’s why learning about the example of the CNN Heroes can help us spot among us those people we should lend our time, prayers and moral support to. For example there is an organization called Project C.A.R.E.S. (Community Activities Reaching to Everyone through Services) headed by Ms May Altarejos-Cueva which is very similar to Leo’s cause.Â Her actions are similar to Leo because unfortunately she suffered a similar loss. I doubt any of you don’t know a relative or friend whose life was cut short by an accident caused by irresponsible driving. Yet I doubt any of you know of any local organizations built to combat this cause of death. May, I may not be in Atlanta (where CNN is based) but you are a hero to me for being the type of person that could be considered for a CNN Hero nomination.
I have appealed to May to write something for Get Real Philippines. I believe she has a message, a passion and a good cause. She truly wants to make a difference in lives. Unlike the arrogant politicians who only want to make a difference in the ballot box and the pocket book. There is nothing wrong with political ambition, what’s wrong is the number of people who usually get screwed on the way to realizing that political ambition.
Herein lies the problem. KSP is truly the root of all evil because attention becomes the yardstick in which the pinoys measure their worth. They don’t measure their worth by what people they help or what they have built. And that is a sad state of affairs. Attention has to be the carrot for either effort or support. The satisfaction of doing your job well or improving your community is not enough. That attention takes on new meaning when it is interpreted as competition with other races. If you gave your typical Filipino a choice, cancer can be cured tomorrow by a multinational team of researchers or cancer can be cured five years by now but by a Filipino. I shudder to think what the honest answer would be based on what I see with Manny Mania and Jessica Sanchez Mania. I am really afraid.
This mentality of course has spilled into the process of electing people for public service. Name recognition and winnability are entirely different concepts from competence, intelligence, integrity and foresight. Very very seldom does the former match up with the latter. That’s the Philippines for you. No idea why there is so much Pinoy Pride over a guy with boxing gloves and shorts and none when deciding who will be the leaders of our nation.
Every person has a value system that they use to make decisions and go through their lives with. I doubt that in our lifetime we will do away with stereotypes based on race. If you want to ask me how do I see my role as a commentator on behavior, I just cite a behavior and then lend my opinion based on what I think is going on and I then cite previous behavior.
When it came to CNN Heroes, it’s obvious that pinoys were too busy wanting to chest beat to learn why the program existed in the first place. As a result none of them despite that ubiquitous email campaign looked for the merit among the other contestants . You know, the ones who were not pinoy like them. For all intents and purpose they did not exist. Fast forward six months after CNN Heroes 2009 where the country was going through it’s Presidential elections. We were bombarded with yellow ribbons and “L” hand signs and pictures of Cory and Noynoy , ads of Kris Aquino not that far removed from her Bench ads. The one thing we were not bombarded with was the merits of Noynoy necessary for him to fulfill the duties of the position he was running for. Which was ultimately the strategy of the Noynoy campaign. For all intents and purposes the merits did not exist. Just like as Doc Albert talks about the typical pinoy movie goer can only use these words to talk about the merits of a movie “Ang pogi ni Richard”, the typical Noynoy voter justified their candidate with phrases like” ang bait ni Noynoy”, ” anak ni Cory” and the ultimate sign of trust “he will not stain the legacy of his parents“.
I say this over and over again , with pinoys it’s all about the family, the name, the brand name, the nationality. It’s rarely about the lesson, the act, the utility, the teachable moment. Function is rarely accounted for. That is exactly how Noynoy Aquino got elected. He represents us because he represents us. He represents our inability to discern utility and value. He represents our desire to seek attention without the desire to do the things that produce excellence. We instead seek false comfort in family names, tradition and perceived image. No one gives a lick about the issues or qualifications. Give them a yellow ribbon and they believe all is well. It’s like Noynoy made a deal with the devil.
Let’s not forget the definition of a hero is a man of distinguished courage, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. Our people were too blind to learn fromÂ CNN’s living, breathing examples of heroes even if one was plucked from our midst. They instead do what pinoys do best which is whoop it up at the slightest glimmer of international recognition. No wonder we ended up with the atrocity that was May 2010. Someone who does not fit the above definition of a hero in the slightest. We don’t value altruism , nobility or sacrifice just emotion, sentimentality and hype. Since we refuse to learn from example we get a President who does not appear to have learned much or will learn much. Someone who is not, never was and never will be a good example of how to live your life.Â You got it wrong voting in Noynoy whose credentials, qualifications and achievements were nil. The guy was a life long KSP. His parents were famous but he did not personally make waves.Â If you spent time being discerning with CNN Heroes 2009 and what it takes to be a true leader, you might have done better. Filipinos must be hard of hearing. You were supposed to vote in a hero not a zero .
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