It was hard to ignore the recently-concluded nuptials of Philippine celebrity couple Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera. The news of their “royal wedding” was all over the local mainstream and social media. Their highly-anticipated wedding has been the talk of the town for months. The appearance of no less than Philippine President Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino as the couple’s Witness of Honor probably helped build the hype even more. The country’s current who’s who were present during the celebration including queen of talk show and Presidential sister, Kris Aquino:
The GMA-7 actor arrived at the wedding venue in a black Ducati motorcycle, wearing a Randy Ortiz cream suit. Meanwhile, the stunning bride wore a Michael Cinco ecru lace wedding gown studded with Swarovski crystals and a pearl tiara.
While a lot of people were excited about the wedding celebration, I couldn’t help but feel a bit turned-off by the blatant display of decadence. There is no doubt that the telegenic couple looked beautiful on their “special day” but I couldn’t stop thinking about what the poor people are thinking about the extravagant celebration.
Why do some members of the Philippine elite feel the need to show off their wealth knowing millions of Filipinos suffer in abject poverty? I thought I was the only one who felt the wedding was over the top, but a lot of folks on Twitter agreed with my view that the excessive display of wealth left a bad taste in the mouth particularly since millions of Filipinos struggle to find their next meal everyday.
The venerable lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio even reminded us that there is a law against “thoughtless extravagance” specifically Article 25, Chapter 2: Human Relations under the Philippine Civil Code, which states:
Art. 25. Thoughtless extravagance in expenses for pleasure or display during a period of acute public want or emergency may be stopped by order of the courts at the instance of any government or private charitable institutions.
The country’s leading Forensic Pathologist Raquel Fortun who held the view that the 2 million peso wedding gown was excessive asked this question: “But what court will stop the wedding though?” What court, indeed? Especially since BS Aquino gave his blessing for the wedding to go ahead and had time for it despite his “busy” schedule. Likewise, motorists and commuters along E. Rodriguez and other streets near the Immaculate Conception Cathedral were even rerouted in Cubao, Quezon City during the big day.
Fortun also said that one can argue that “thoughtless extravagance” might be viewed as subjective since the Philippines is not in a “period of acute public want or emergency”. To which I responded that in my opinion, the Philippines has been in a permanent period of acute public want or emergency for a long time.
The below quote from a blogpost explains the concept behind the civil code:
1. Reason for Curtailing Thoughtless Extravagance
Thoughtless extravagance during emergencies may incite the passions of those who cannot afford to spend.
2. Who can Bring the Action?
Only a charitable institutions (whether government or private) may bring the action. The Mayor of a city, should he desire to stop an alleged display of extravagance by a social organization cannot summarily order the stopping all by himself. He has to ask for a court order. A Mayor indeed cannot just take the law into his own hands, no matter how noble or sincere his motive may be.
In the case of the Dingdong Dantes-Marian Rivera wedding, hardly anyone from the public complained about the excesses during the celebration. And it was obvious that no one was going to stop the event for the wedding of the year.
This brings us to the part where the author of the Civil Code failed to consider the fact that sadly, Filipinos in general do not see anything wrong with “thoughtless extravagance in expenses for pleasure or display during a period of acute public want or emergency.” A lot of Filipinos even go gaga over the actions of the elite who act like members of the royal family.
There are times when I thought that the decadence of the Philippine elite will somehow push the masses over the edge into finally storming the country’s gated communities. But I don’t think Filipinos have it in them to demand for a sense of decency from people who can make a difference in their future. Until then, those who suffer from abject poverty will remain where they are. How they can live in miserable state is beyond me. It seems their wretched existence is not enough to make them rebel against excess.
[Photo courtesy GMA Network.]
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