Would Pharrell Williams approve of Haiyan victims dancing to ‘Happy’?


I mean, seriously, WTF? That video showing Filipinos dancing amid the devastation left by Typhoon Haiyan in Leyte is in bad taste plain and simple. There is nothing to be “happy” about what happened there. And no amount of dancing will change the simple fact that what happened to Tacloban is nothing short of horrific.

More than dancing and this supposedly symbolic representation of Filipinos’ bizarre notion of “resilience”, it is really results that we need. Imagine coming home to your house and finding a big pile of dirty dishes on the sink and your maid greeting you as she dances to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” so as to assuage your horror at the sight of that mess. You’d be anything but happy, dude.

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It seems to me that the psychology behind Quentin Messit’s video stems from how one would react to the sight of a baby smiling even as she wallows in the sorts of messes babies make around themselves owing to their, well, babyish behaviour. It’s a cute sight while they are babies. But the cuteness quickly wears thin as they grow up. For that matter, I think a common error made by parents is assuming that other people necessarily find their kids cute. Having been a frequent flier for most of my career, I can attest to the error in that common assumption.

happy_in_aftermath_of_haiyanBy the time kids are six or seven parents are given an evil eye by even the most tolerant people if their kids are still tossing bowls of spaghetti onto the floor. Many child psychologists agree that if you haven’t disciplined your kid by the time they are six or seven, they’re likely to be well on their way to becoming serial killers as adults.

There is a limit to positivity and the “positivity” Messit’s video was trying to bring across has definitely crossed the line.

The trouble with advocates of “positive” thinking is that they do not respect a person’s right to grieve and embrace this grief. I recall a friend of mine who, during the wake of her mother who died of cancer at the age of 55, was told by a presumably well-meaning born-again Christian that her mother’s death “served God’s higher purpose”. She asked that person pointedly : “Is that God’s purpose according to how YOU interpret it?” I don’t remember the details of the rest of that conversation but it went pear-shaped from there because, as one would expect of these born-again types, this “Christian” didn’t know when to quit.

When will Filipinos quit flashing a dumb-looking smile to cover up their lack of an ability to take care of themselves? I don’t know. As long as these idiotic displays of “positivity” keep being used to prop up this perverted brand of “resilience” used to bolster our ill-conceived notions of the “Filipino spirit”, we will always behave like that baby with the bowl of spaghetti on her head — utterly devoid of personal accountability for the misfortunes that befall us.

26 Replies to “Would Pharrell Williams approve of Haiyan victims dancing to ‘Happy’?”

  1. I don’t agree with your negative sentiments towards the video. Though it might leave the viewers with the wrong impression that everything is fine in Tacloban. However at the end of the day, we are given what we are given, and sometimes the only thing we really have control over is how we view things. There is still a lot of work to be done in those areas, but having a cheerful disposition can make a world of difference as to how the work is viewed. We are left to give meaning to the devastation and damage you see around you. You can either wallow in self pity and depression or take it all in stride and find joy where you can, in the people around you and the opportunity to rebuild.

    1. “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

      —-Mark Twain

      It doesn’t mean if most people agree with you, then it must be correct.

  2. I’m sorry to say, but the old saying that stupid people are always happy seems to apply here. These people are basically dancing on the graves of thousands of corpses. It’s like playing rap music at a funeral and the eulogy is read by a stand-up comedian. Already just the idea to make a video like that makes me want to throw up in my mouth.

  3. The video leaves a very bad taste in the mouth. Whoever made this video must have been dropped on his head by his mum when he was still a baby.

    If anything, the video shaows how pinoys are now, “mababaw”, just grin and bear it, accept things and just be happy about it. Just the way the oligarchs want them to be. Submissive idiots, happy with scraps thrown at them.

    1. It’s obviously an attempt to hide the fact that the tacloban survivors are being IGNORED by this incompetent government.

      Yellow ignoramuses would still believe that everything in tacloban is honkey-dorey when in reality, they’re living in hellish conditions.

      Before any of those malacanang trolls say “tumulong nalang kayo kaysa magpuna!”, it’s already been 4 months and your government has been slacking off in helping them.

      Face the truth,malacanang morons, your president has been nothing but a disaster during his 4 years of rule and he has managed to be even more corrupt than the previous administrations.

    2. @ JD

      Must be something they brewed to distract people, again, from their exposed foul-ups on the relief/rehab of the area. Can you even believe the gall of the yellow one, issuing an apology after 4 months, in an inappropriate place and time?

      To all those who take this crap in as another pinoy pride, you better do a lot of fact finding. I have read comments in youtube which are clear evidence of the pinoy kababawan, basta sabay sa uso. But you can’t igonore the fact that expired relief goods are being buried in landfills, and that the housing the government provided is grossly overpriced, and the government ignoring to focus on providing for the restoration of the victims’ livelihood. Sure…dance away…. idiots.

      1. Should we not say something or leave a comment on the video voicing concern over this? What’s stopping people from trying to have some sort of open dialogue over an issue like this? If you’re afraid (or “know”) that people won’t listen, then you’re not trying hard enough or not doing it right.

        Complain here, complain there, but if you’re not actively doing something about it, then why bother? “Change” doesn’t start by shouting at the three people who may or may not read what you have to say.

        1. If you have taste and a conscience , these guys have no time for you. They cater to the segment of the population with negligible discretion otherwise known as the majority . Hence why we have Noynoy as president. It has nothing to do with experience in problem solving or paying your dues, it has to do with pulling at emotions and taking the ignorant for a ride. Speaking just for me GRP serves two functions. 1) a place to describe and document the foolishness I see 2) shed light to the one realizes they have been living in darkness. For now it does not have to be a big number but as long as we are reaching people then maybe we stand a fighting chance.

      2. @pc

        Believe you me when I tell you I have been trying “enlightening” the likes of those moronic mooks by hard hitting them head on with real facts. And it was like talking to a rock, plus they would readily call me names such as, bitter, loyalist, nega, etc.

        Needless to say, it is utterly useless for me to talk some sense into them.

        Complaining isn’t what this is all about, this is about giving the people a clearer picture of what this country has become after decades of idiocy. You think this will not promote change?

        1. It is a long period of totally fucked up system. They fall victim and conditioned that hardship, poverty and dying is a norm that there’s nothing to worry about. All they can do is to be cheerful or simply ignore things and divert their attention to something that will lighten up the misery.

        2. “morons”? who told you that your perspective is the “correct” one? I’m not saying that the perspective of “having fun in the middle of a tragedy” is “correct” too, but who told you that you are “correct”? I understand your point but I think “respect” is a nice (if it’s not correct) way to “enlighten” your “morons”…

          it’s their perspective, they’re the one dancing, not you, not me, we don’t clearly know their reasons and their feelings but let’s just sympathize and empathize

        3. Gale, iha. I am not the one to say if my perspective is “correct”. I state facts, the moronic mooks should learn to digest it. They fail doing that then they are indeed morons. No, make that imbeciles.

  4. Wow! I am amazed. These people are the ones affected by the disaster and you are the ones horrified and disgusted with what they are doing. Way to judge, people.
    I am happy that you get to complain in the comfort of your homes while they maintain “happy”ness while working. I think the greater tragedy would be to let a tragedy like this define them. There is strength in thinking positive. There is strength in being “happy” while you keep your world from crumbling under you.
    I am fed up with people that think that just because they are educated it automatically mean that they are smart. Shiesh. This is why I am convinced that the college system produces more idiots than a lobotomy clinic. It is not because it provides inferior information but because it gives them the air of superiority to think that they know better than the people in the thicke of things. Susginoo!!!

    1. Wow, I am amazed at how good you are at twisting things.

      People here are not “horrified” and “disgusted” at the people in the video. That one should be clear enough for you. I have expressed disgust over the author of the video, though, which is very very different from each.

      How do you know where each of us are coming from? Are you even sure that we are at the comforts of our home?

      It seems you have a slanted definition of happiness, as real happiness cannot be captured in a video of a few minutes length.

      It is a tragedy, and it is clearly defined in the background of that video and it wil be part of their history, kids will grow up and tell the next generation of this tragedy. That is a fact. What the hell is this greater tragedy you are going on about?

      So much for being positive. Let me ask you this, would it be better to see the glass as half full or half empty? I’m sure all you positive guys will answer half full. But you do not see the fact that seeing the glass half empty would prompt you to fill it up. On the other hand, seeing it as half full would encourage complacency.

      So you think people here “feel superior” to the others? Let me put it this way, It is not being superior when I tell you to try look at things without your shades.

      1. The greatest tragedy is to let the tragedy define you. You can see a glass as half full, it can be half empty. At the end of the day, when there is no more water in the glass, you can always pour more from the pitcher. If there is no more in the pitcher, you can always get more from the faucet and so on. Yes, it would be in history forever but it shouldn’t be the most important day of their lives because the best way to deal with it is to continue on with their lives and the first thing is to rebuild which is exactly what they are doing. They just chose to do it while “Happy”ing.
        As for wearing shades. When thing get too bright there is nothing wrong with wearing shades, especially if you are the only one in the middle of the field while the other people are at the comfort of their own homes.

        1. Man, I replied to your comment point by point, and you twist my reply further instead of backing your first set of statements logically.

          Ang gulo mo!

        2. The point is what did the author of that video offer those people because seriously, I wouldn’t be doing it if I was one of them.There had to be a benefit to convince those people to participate in that video. It saddens me that some people are capitalizing on those people’s misery.

  5. Well, for someone like me who hails from Tacloban, the video was not as insulting as some of you here says it is. We cannot grieve forever, right? The video just showed that the people are happy for being alive and that they are moving on.

    We cannot stagnate on the fact that thousands died. It is a fact in which it has been embedded in our history. True enough that one cannot ignore the fact that it has scarred us forever. However, life must go on. This video shows that come what may…we will rise from the ashes..from the ruins of any calamity. It just shows that we are mature enough to accept our loss and look forward to a new tomorrow.

    1. That is just it right? People there are happy just to be alive. Come next calamity (anywhere in the Philippines), the survivors will still be again, happy just to be alive, move on with their life, “rise from the ashes”, look forward to your new tomorrow….

      But the question will be, does it really have to be like that every single time that such magnitude of a calamity happens? Sure you can dance yourself till your tsinelas wears out to show that you are moving on. To me, that ain’t resilience… that is being ignorant of the fact that what could have been done was not done at all. And that is just utterly stupid.

    2. “…we will rise from the ashes..from the ruins of any calamity.”

      In comparison to Japan, you still haven’t risen from the calamity known as WW2.

  6. The impression this video gives me is, “oh, the Haiyan victims are singing and dancing. Looks like they’re happy anyway, so let’s stop helping them.” Wonder if some people would like that to happen to people who are still hungry and jobless?

  7. I am really surprised by the negativity here. The Filipino people are wonderful and happy people, despite their loss, they remain positive and extremely grateful to the hundreds of volunteers who are helping them every single day. They smile through their adversity and show a humbling respect and gratitude for the little they have. That doesn’t mean they are not hurting and grieving, of course they are. They do have a very natural positive outlook though, which helps them enormously at times like this. I love this video, they have beautiful and happy souls 🙂

  8. I can’t believe the negativity in the article and some of the comments. Such negative people with sick distorted views of life. Just because there was a devastation you think people should fit your pathetic stereotype that they should act like victims? How dare you criticize how people should act! How dare you try to push your pathological expectations on these people. If they choose to be happy and express their happiness its not of your business. Go wallow in your own misery if you wish, but to call this in bad taste is stupid. Your opinion is what’s in bad bad bad taste. If those people didn’t feel happy and didn’t feel like dancing then they wouldn’t. You are criticizing them for being happy. What kind of human beings are you? In what way are you helping. What, you think they will feel any better if they found out your insensitive criticism. How they choose to cope with their plight is none of your business. How dare you pontificate that they have no reason to be happy. They are alive, that is reason to be happy. For them to find reasons to be happy, seems to be beyond your limited comprehension. You are not just criticizing the one who made the video but everyone who happily took part. Are you even Filipino, because if you are, shame on you. You don’t know your culture. Please, just go back to your therapists and deal with your personal issues with them and stop polluting the world with your nonsense. Let people be happy even if you can’t.

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