What Filipinos’ reaction to the #DongYanWedding says about us

True to her form, GRP blogger Ilda wrote about what she thought about the recent church wedding between GMA Network stars Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes – in which no less than Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino was the best man – all which drew a lot of comments – generally irate and telling her off for being “bitter”, “inggit (envious)”, and “pakialamera (meddlesome or nosy)” – and sparked a “lively” discussion. She cited Article 25 of the Civil Code as something that the ostentatious display of wealth that was the #DongYanWedding could have possibly violated, but the deeper implications she seemingly wanted to make are these:

Certain well-off Filipinos apparently have a need to display themselves ostentatiously, and;

Certain Filipinos who aren’t as well-off don’t seem to be bothered by it.

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Not surprisingly, not only did many of the comments left fail to address these two implications, they also validated her opinions. Also, similar to how commentators reacted to GRP webmaster benign0’s article about gated communities in light of Junjun Binay’s incident at Dasmariñas Village, many got hung up on the legality but did not address the issues of social acceptability and impact on the overall bigger community.

Why do those implications exist? Ating alamin.

Before anything else, let us note that some of the more sensible reactions to that article – that’s not saying much, though – generally followed two lines of thought:

”It’s their money, how they spend it is their business”, and;

”Why don’t you write about corrupt government officials instead?”

Raquel Fortun, whom Ilda cited as having said that the notion of “thoughtless extravagance” is a subjective one, was actually spot on when she said that. Without quantitative standards for defining what extravagance is, one can easily argue that from his/her own point of view, there is no thoughtless extravagance. Yet the trouble with defining quantitative standards is that the value of money changes all the time; with the changes comes a periodic review of standards to be used. There are, however, also qualitative standards that Filipinos should agree on. These are more, I would like to believe, commonsensical. Unfortunately, common sense is not so common in the Philippines.

Back to the two “sensible” lines of thought I mentioned above.

It’s their money, how they spend it is their business – fair enough; I actually do agree with that. Yes, how they spend their money is indeed their business. Yet Filipinos must remember that anything that is broadcast to the public or represents a public figure – showbiz celebrities and politicians being the most obvious examples – is fair game for commentary. Just as GRP leaves its blog page and articles open for comments to the public, the wedding, details and all, once shown on live TV, opens itself up to scrutiny by virtue of being in the public eye.

Unfortunately, Filipinos don’t like scrutiny. Especially of something that makes them feel “happy”.

Why don’t you write about corrupt government officials instead? – GRP has been doing so for the longest time, but Filipinos seem to react to government corruption in two very old, tired, and frankly disappointing ways: they either brush it off as incurable and become indifferent to it, or they express shock and awe that such actually exists.

It is when those two lines of thought are taken together that something interesting about Filipinos and their reaction to ostentation comes up:

When Filipino politicians, celebrities, and private citizens go on ostentatious displays of wealth, the reaction of the greater community can range from indifference to absolute indignation. In the case of politicians and government officials, however, it is usually assumed that such ostentatious displays were made possible at the taxpayers’ expense. Malamang ninakaw daw sa kaban ng bayan iyan.

Keep in mind that ostentatious displays of wealth are hardly anything new or out of the blue in the Philippines; they are a way of asserting one’s social status. Filipinos are extremely conscious about how they are perceived by others, and are very obsessed with “being and appearing to be wealthy”. They are hobbled by a compulsion to exert their dominance over each other, plus they have this baseless sense of being more important than everyone else.

Now comes the “hard” question: what determines the greater communities’ reaction to such displays?

The answer, I think, is very simple, thanks to what a friend of mind once told me: whether they get something good out of it or not.

Filipinos have an unmistakable balato (dole-out) mentality – they are incorrigible beggars, freeloaders, and palamunins. Quite simply, give them money, free food, or whatever “prize”, and they will keep mum about such displays.

In the case of the #DongYanWedding, the balato was the “kilig (giddy)” moments that the couple and their love story exuded. These “kilig” sentiments can be regarded as some sort of drug: as benign0 has pointed out in another article, grand weddings have a proven track record of effectively distracting the masses from their wretchedness. And as I have pointed out before, Filipinos are desperate for good vibes, feel-good moments, and opportunities to be happily distracted from their self-made misery.

And thus, yet another batch of realizations about Filipinos comes out:

Criticizing showbiz personalities, politicians, and others who make them feel good is an absolute no-no. Walang basagan ng trip, and;

Filipinos are not individualist, or collectivist, in the strictest sense of the words. They are incorrigibly self-centered, hypersensitive, shallow, easily distracted, and easily swayed moochers.

Finally, take note that while Filipinos here in Metro Manila (and possibly beyond) were enamored and obsessed with watching the wedding, typhoon Seniang was battering parts of Visayas and Mindanao. The current death toll is up to 53, according to Reuters. Now that the wedding is over, where are the Malacañang mouths when you need them? What sort of priorities do our leaders and their government have?

Around the region, Indonesian authorities believe that they have found the remains of AirAsia flight #QZ8501, and have recovered some of the bodies as well. On a personal note, it is truly heart-wrenching to hear about yet another airline incident in this region. Filipinos should be concerned; if such an accident happens to a Filipino airline, are we adequately equipped to conduct search and rescue operations. Even if we were, would we conduct them in a timely and orderly manner?

The answers to the questions above are painfully obvious. Filipinos, however, want none of the pain that comes with coming face-to-face with their wretched reality; they would rather stay in their fantasy “kilig” world and in their “contented” stupor.

16 Replies to “What Filipinos’ reaction to the #DongYanWedding says about us”

  1. Many seem to have a naive, fairy tale view of wealth. They need to ask a few hard questions. Where did the wealth come from? Most likely, it was acquired by exploiting workers or by degrading the environment.

    If the planet belongs to everyone; what right do the few have to destroy it in order to enrich themselves?

    Are there are enough resources to sustain every living human? If yes, what prevents the distribution of vital supplies to all?

    Does wealth create poverty?

  2. And another stupid comment from someone who is very obsessed with too much kilig. Yan naman ang hirap sa mga bobong pinoy na katulad mo e: inuuna palagi ang puso hindi ang utak. Ang laman lang yata ng utak mo ay showbiz e. And yeah right be happy with their wedding. In the next few years they will be separated that’s for sure. And what’s wrong about studying it’s obvious faults you indiot? Feeling sinless much? pinoy nga naman oo masyadong happy-go-lucky.

  3. “Filipinos should be concerned; if such an accident happens to a Filipino airline, are we adequately equipped to conduct search and rescue operations. Even if we were, would we conduct them in a timely and orderly manner?”

    I doubt if the reactions to this type of catastrophe would gather as much attention as the dongyan posts you guys did. us pinoys are ostriches with heads buried in the sand like that.=) never, ever speak against their favorite celebrities’ actions at the risk of mob lynching. the sad part is that said celebs probably couldn’t care less…people are just taking things way too personally and irrationaly. chill. dongyan will always be there no matter how many articles us heretics publish against them.=)

    1. But it isn’t the mob mentality for a lot. There are some of us who aren’t fans but feel to be in the same position:

      Just because there are calamities and poor people that we mustn’t be extravagant even when we have the means to? Who are you to tell us how to spend our money?

  4. It’s their money, how they spend it is their business – That’s the very point of “thoughtless extravagance” don’t you think? Spending your own money. This argument is not even a valid rebuttal to Ilda’s article.

    1. Though to be fair to the couple. The only learned to spend this way from Hollywood. Again, it’s a symptom of how unthinking our showbiz can be – copying/rehashing hollywood, only it’s a perverted version.

  5. Why is everybody so serious?

    “It’s not about the money, money, money
    We just wanna make the world dance
    Forget about the price tag”
    by Jessie J – Price Tag

    If it’s not about the money – what is it about?
    1. To make money circulate, create financial or economic acitivity and provide work or employment to many.

    2. Strive for Excellence – couple are focused/driven to stage the highest standards or best wedding ever and strive to achieve the most memorable experience, then money matters less.

    3. It’s about sending a message – both may run for political positions even though they do not have experience & knowledge when it comes to politics. 

  6. What this fails to do is to distinguish celebrities from politicians. Fair enough, in the Philippines, the line between the two is fine.

    But let me remind everyone, while they are celebrities, making them public figures, they have their private funds–so commentary should be made accordingly. You can judge Marian how tacky her gown was or how ugly the table centerpieces were but you can never judge how lavish the wedding seemed. Again, that’s where we draw the line–they are PUBLIC FIGURES WITH PRIVATE FUNDS. Judge how hyped the wedding was, but don’t assail them on how they spent their money.

  7. what’s AirAsia flight #QZ8501 have to do with dongyan? are you saying that we should move on and be more concerned with other important things? yeah sure! but also tell that to yourself and to the whole GRP because the wedding is already few days over and you still talking about it here and on your facebook fanpage. #hypocrite.

      1. “butthurt”? haha! lol! is this your another standard slogan GRP fanfag after the “you don’t get the point”?

        Perhaps GRP is the one who is butthurt since they’re still writing about it here and on their facebook.

        1. Sorry, son. They way you REACT means that you’re totally butthurt.

          In short, you’re missing the point altogether. Re-read again, real-life butthurtfag.

  8. Actually, to their avid fans, there was really nothing wrong per se in the wedding of Dantes and Rivera. They have all the right, and money, to do that. But they didn’t do it in private. That’s the sticking point.

    When you make your personal affair public, you are granting the public the privilege to give opinion or views to it. You practically say that your affair is now under the control, if not outright ownership, of the public, hence, it’s a free for all. Of course, the fans, not one to take criticisms sitting down, will react violently against the negatives with their emotion and temper. Result? All hell brakes loose. Which is what’s actually happening in the other article (Ilda’s).

    When the public gets a hold of an event, everything tends to get magnified to the max. The intelligent view as well as lots of ignorant, confused and annoying views will come up. Some might interpret it as a reflection of who we are. But of course, it is not who we are. There may be something there that may reflect characters that easily can be identified with Filipinos but for the msot part it’s all the same with other countries. Our reaction to the event has nothing to say about who we are in the sense that it’s exclusive to us. Even Americans get thrilled and annoyed at the same time on Royal weddings. Other countries also display, in public gatherings and events such as wedding, extravance and lavish ceremonies fit to a king, so to speak.

    Obsession to being and appearing to be wealthy is a universal trait. We did not invent nor have a monopoly of it. We live in a material world, as a Madonna song goes, and we are material men.

    1. The problem with the GRP defender is that they trying to playdown and make it looks like it was just the bakya crowd who are bashing them. I don’t think so! The bakya crowd just joined when the blog became viral.

      GRP is not a mainstream blog and we know what type of audience read its blog. the first group of people who reacted against ilda’s article are the actual follower of GRP.

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