Pinoy-style morality sets the wrong priorities

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Suddenly everyone has an opinion. People who normally can’t be bothered to comment, post, or even glance at any political information you regularly provide are now so involved with what’s going on in the country.

That’s good. Despite the obvious bandwagoning typical of Facebook users for the hoped-for ‘likes’ and adulation for their posts, at least people are showing signs that they’re not actually that indifferent and oblivious to things going on around them.

And there’s nothing like a provocateur like Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to stir things up with nary lifting a finger. Because of a crass joke, people are losing their minds. I agree with the general sentiment that it was uncalled for and callous considering he was in a public setting and he was a public servant. And that all public servants should hold themselves to a higher moral, and ethical plane than the average citizen as an example.

But then I remembered: This is the Philippines we’re talking about. And on the heels of that: When did we ever have politicians who behaved decently in the last 20-30 years anyway?

This is a place where—as I have already pointed out in two write-ups about Manny Pacquiao when he found himself in a similar quandary because he cannot control his mouth—people routinely partake in more than one form of verbal abuse without even thinking about it at least once in their lifetime.

In the Philippines, gutter-mouth is the norm, even among the so-called elites. Mar Roxas himself has had his share of gutter-mouth moments in front of the public, where one crispy Putangina! Ano to?! Putangina! Walang bawal-bawal sa akin! after another also got him in the crosshairs of political observers who called him out on it. And that’s a supposed elite, AB crowd favorite and a ‘decent’ candidate’s slip showing in no more than one occasion.

Look no further than your own neighborhood and even own household for racial slurs, gay jokes, and risque conversations. Where friendly ribbing like ‘Wag ka mag-alala di ka mare-reyp sa ayos mong yan‘, is as banal and inconsequential as ‘Hello’ or ‘Kamusta‘. Sometimes, even a combination of insults that would probably land you in jail in more developed countries happen: Where jokes on how skin color or gender orientation might save you from a possible sexual assault because they’d repel sexual predators.

You have heard this in no more than one occasion and I’m sure you simply forced out a smile or a chuckle no matter how uncomfortable you must have felt just to save yourself from being ostracized by the group. And that at one time or another, you’ve been guilty of the same insensitive slurs yourself.

That’s a daily reality in the Philippines. Of course it’s not right. But there’s something hypocritical about being able to observe, move around, hear and probably did it at one time in your life yourself, and suddenly grow a civic-minded altruistic crusade to rid the universe of evil simply because another member of a society that tolerates that type of crap said it.

What’s even more confounding about this recent outrage fad is that it centered on a person’s cheap talk. Meanwhile, some quarters are using taxpayer’s money, government resources for their campaign, and, recently, open-fired on a bunch of famished farmers. But the outrage for those were nowhere near the rabid bloodlust some people had for that verbal screw-up.

I should know. My Facebook timeline was chirping crickets about those types of things until that Duterte incident happened.

I guess when there’s no sexual element involved, then it must be within the bounds of what constitutes as ‘moral’ in the Philippines. No less than the ‘venerable’ CBCP had ‘maximum tolerance’ on matters involving malversation of taxpayers’ money:

In a report on CBCPNews, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas reminded Christians to “love at all times, even those who sin and err, for none of us is above human frailty.”

“For those among us who are not accused, let us remember that the offenses with which those who now stand accused are charged could very well be the offense of any of us as well,” he said.

“Who are we to condemn? Let the one who has no sin be the first to cast a stone,” he added.

Villegas urged officials not to act out of hatred or desire for vengeance. He said a vengeful action “cannot be from God.”

And an off-with-their-heads policy on gutter-mouthed politicians:

CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said: “Vulgarity is corruption. When we find vulgarity funny, we have really become beastly and barbaric as a people.”

“When a revered and loved and admired man like Pope Francis is cursed by a political candidate and the audience laugh, I can only bow my head and grieve in great shame. My countrymen have gone to the dregs,” Villegas said.

So much for casting that first stone, padre.

When you get robbed by pristine-looking thieves mouthing off their Hail Marys and their saintly virtues and people buy into that, guess the shit really hit the fan. And we don’t need potential despots like Duterte to ruin something that’s already damaged beyond recognition.

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16 Comments on “Pinoy-style morality sets the wrong priorities”

  1. As a Filipino, I had to fight and resist the urge to gape, gawk.. even pry into events that do not involve me in any way. For the most part, I seem, now, to be winning this game. I also strived to overhaul my sense of propriety.. in conduct, conversation and sense of humor.. and tried to be more reserved and respectful of others’ privacy. In this, the effort is still a struggle. I tend to think that this effort is not so much to be just like a refined European, Asian or American, (Central and South Americans included), but rather, to be somewhat more thoughtful and civilized myself. I also tend to think that this is not a bad thing to aspire to.
    Would it be presumptious to think that we all should learn how to be more reserved and just keep off of others’ space? Would a crowd, so disposed, have laughed at Mr. Duterte’s sick jokes.. or, would Mr. Duterte himself have attempted such a cheap trick if he were similarly disposed? Filipinos of a bygone era, for the most part, were such people as I wish we all could become.
    Sent from my iPad

    1. >> Filipinos of a bygone era, for the most part, were such people as I wish we all could become.

      When the Spaniards first washed up in the Philippines, they found a prosperous and cultured people. They then proceeded to turn it all to crap, just as they had everywhere else they went.

      1. I was thinking more of the 1930s through the1960s; but since you bring it up.. Does it always have to be somebody else’s fault? Is it really that difficult to look in the mirror and address the real culprit? If we do this, we might have a good shot at turning things around.

        1. I agree, but that wasn’t what I was suggesting. If Filipinos were normal people once, they can be normal again. They’re not destined to be useless forever.

          The period you’re talking about what heavily influenced by (the better parts of) American culture. American engineers and technocrats where behind most of the developments that occurred during that period. Of course, Filipinos made it happen, and took pride in what they were doing. Where’s the inspiration for that kind of effort today?

  2. Excellent article.

    I think this pretty much sums it up:

    When you get robbed by pristine-looking thieves mouthing off their Hail Marys and their saintly virtues and people buy into that, guess the shit really hit the fan.

    Can we all say ‘hypocrisy’, children? There’s a big word for Filipinos to learn. I think the CC has a LOT to answer for here; their whole ethos seems to be that you can do whatever you like, as long as you turn up for mass afterwards and ask for forgiveness. It’s no wonder a religion like that is popular in a country where people think the only person who matters is themselves.

  3. Everything goes on, in the Philippine political arena. Politician with gutter mouth, say what they want; the crowd listening to them gives an uproar.

    Are we really sane people?

    Politicians steal billions, or trillions of pesos thru : DAP, PDAF, Pork Barrel, Typhoon Yolanda Relief Funds, etc…do we hear the same outrage?

    Abaya and his cahoots at Ninoy Aquino Int. Airport, do the “Laglag Bala” scam. Do we hear Some outrage? They even, did a “Laglag Bala” to a senior citizen on a wheel chair. I don’t hear any outrage…

    What is worse to us? A foul mouthed politician, or a politician committing massive plunder? Allowing his cahoots to scam people with “Laglag Bala” scam?

  4. Question. Filipinos do you believe this is a problem in your nation only and not modern countries. Look at the brazil impeachment vote. look at Britain’s assembly discussing the Brit exit from the EU. look at America’s congressional fight over budget and immigration. I hate to tell you this the Philippines is not and will never be the only country having moral issues or problems. Stop looking at the rest of the world with dream colored glasses and look at the truth.

  5. Going with that line of thinking, we might as well not comment on ANY issues because most of them “are also happening to the rest of the world”.

    1. I think we should comment on it, but I also think people should start giving answers on how to make things better along with saying problems.

  6. Problem solving is a 6 step process. Why do we always stop at identifying the problem? Does anyone actually know the 6 step problem solving process and why it is not made to be used here in everything we do?

      1. I wish I had the answer. The only answer can come from the people who knows this place. Unfortunately I am not one of them.

  7. There has to be a cut-off somewhere between the freedom of expression and a graphically explicit free-for-all.

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