Social media was abuzz for a while over a recent Twitter exchange between ABS-CBN comedian Vice Ganda and former Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño. Although Vice had several tweets in relation to President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino’s recent State of the Nation Address (SONA), one in particular drew quite a bit of attention, and mixed reactions from Filipino netizens:
Hindi lahat ng nagpoprotesta totoong nag aaklas. Yung iba diyan nabayaran lang at sinuhulan ng pambili ng bigas. (Not everyone who protested was supporting a cause. Some of them were merely paid and given money to buy rice)
Teddy Casiño’s reply was rather straightforward:
Yung umattend sa loob ng Congress sinuhulan ng bilyon bilyon sa DAP. (Those who attended in Congress were paid off with billions from DAP, the Disbursement Acceleration Program)
Once netizens read this exchange, some of them commented that Vice was owned (supalpal) in that exchange. Others commented that communists like Casiño are merely looking for attention (nang-eepal). In short, discussion degenerated to an argument about taking sides (kampihan).
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Put aside the affiliations of both Vice and Casiño, and you will find that their exchange of tweets betrays a rather inescapable stink about Filipino society: not only is it easy to sell oneself out here, it is a banal practice.
Selling oneself out is both a chronic (talamak) and widespread (laganap) behavior in the Philippines. During elections, one can find citizens who would gladly sell their votes for money. Our politicians will jump political parties out of convenience or for the right “terms”. It won’t be too hard to find certain members of our law enforcement services who are only too willing to accept the bribe (suhol or lagay) in exchange for letting the offender go. As Vice Ganda has pointed out, one shouldn’t be surprised to find among protesters those who joined it for the money or for the free sack of rice. To give Casiño credit, he was spot on in calling out members of Congress who would rather sell themselves out for their share of either the pork barrel or the DAP (though both of them are supposedly “no more”), whichever one applies. Yet at the same time, some of Casiño’s communist colleagues have gone to bed with the very government they’re supposed to be protesting, opposing, and keeping a watch on.
A friend of mine once quipped that the Philippines seems to be a transactional society – one where its members are more concerned with “what can I get out of this” than they are with “what is the greater good”. What good are principles if you can’t earn from them, or when they don’t put food on the table, or give you money that you can spend on yourself? Ika nga, hindi nakakain ang prinsipyo. (As is commonly said, principles can’t be eaten.)
It’s also sad and distressing to note that Philippine society and politics are characterized by loyalty not to principles, not to institutions, but to personalities.. Especially when that personality wields a lot of power, influence, and cash.
But is it really that sad, distressing, or even surprising? It has long been asserted here in GRP that the Philippines is a society that suffers from lazy thinking. Filipinos just don’t think things through; to them, the short-term quick fix or gratification – the easy thing to do – is much more important than the long-term consequence of their actions. The inclination to take the suhol or the freebie is but a mere manifestation of that.
But taking that suhol feels good, doesn’t it? That’s what matters to the Filipino – the feel good, temporary high, quick fix.
And Filipinos keep wondering why their society hasn’t changed? It’s precisely because they keep making the easy, self-serving choices.
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