Duterte, Rappler, Utos ni bossing, and Tone-deafness

Singing karaoke-style is of course, a staple of Filipino hospitality. Quite a few Filipinos, I can imagine, will vividly remember being forced by their parents to, ignominiously, sing for a house guest. When Filipinos grow up, either karaoke machines, or on occasion, a live band, provides the means through which they can “showcase” their musical prowess, often at the expense of the neighbors.

One can be forgiven for thinking that it probably would’ve been better to listen a cat screech, than it was to hear Rodrigo Duterte sing at the ASEAN summit gala dinner. But one can’t really have it all: maybe that’s why he became a lawyer, mayor, and eventual president of the Republic of the Philippines, instead of a professional singer (who would’ve probably become a washed-up has been by now). Tone-deaf as he may be in music, one can’t help but notice that the word doesn’t necessarily apply to how he’s handled the Philippines’ relations with other countries, so far.

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President Duterte, however, made a tongue-in-cheek remark about how he sang “upon the orders of the commander in chief of the United States”. Local media outfits, like Rappler, were quick to pick this up, and make it appear that Duterte was taking orders, or being subservient to US President Donald Trump. Hooray for eye-catching, but misleading headlines!

Any Filipino with even with just half a brain instinctively knows, that the context of such a remark revolves around the Filipino colloquialism “utos ni bossing” (literally “the boss’s orders”). When Filipinos either make requests of, or receive requests from, each other, they humble themselves (nagpapakakumbaba). Sometimes, however, there is sarcasm (and the occasional passive-aggression) at work. Sarcasm and nuance, unfortunately, often don’t translate very well between languages. In this case, neither do media outfits like Rappler.

It seems then, that the simplest conclusion one can draw here, is that Rappler, despite using quotation marks for “upon the orders”, was not after framing the context of Duterte’s remarks properly. And because this isn’t the first time it has done so, one can be excused for thinking that it never was. Granted, since, technically, Rappler is a privately-owned enterprise, it can’t help but make profit its priority. But to have to resort to sensationalist and deliberately misleading reportage, especially with someone whose politics run opposite to yours? Why should the gossiping hen social media network get a free pass on that?

Baka naman kasi utos ng bossing, whoever that boss actually is.

It also has become apparent as well, that Rappler remains tone deaf about why there is growing hostility towards its style of reporting, and why it is losing readership to blogs and bloggers. The outfit sticks to its claims that it is because media outfits like it have to deal with government-sponsored trolls, sock-puppets, and social media statistic manipulation. But really, it is because, rather than deal with, and incorporate opposing points of view into its “reporting”, Rappler is quick to throw around the term “fake news”, to claim that Duterte’s supporters are uncultured, unthinking morons, and that its freedom of expression is being suppressed.

Because many Filipinos are too lazy and parochial in their regard for information, however, dinosaur media outfits like Rappler – who are only too willing to tell their readers what to think – will always have a space to operate in in Filipino society. And because of an apparent deference to – and oftentimes a blatant conflict of interest with – media, the people who are in a position to recommend punitive measures against media outfits, for unnecessarily sensationalist, misleading, sloppy, and downright malicious reporting, very rarely do so. As a result, mainstream media will keep getting away with their “misinterpretations”.

In other words, no one is addressing the big elephant in the room.

Mas madali mag maang-maangan, bingi-bingian, at bulag-bulagan.

3 Replies to “Duterte, Rappler, Utos ni bossing, and Tone-deafness”

  1. There’s only less than 2 months left till their idiotic PR Funding Drive is gone, and it’s not looking good, but then again, most Pilipinos could give less of a damn on a useless clickbait website as Rappler.

  2. Okay, we GRP Bloggers are not morons, uncultured, etc…we are sensible people, with sensible thoughts. We just want discourse , to give good information to our country; and to have a good discourse with the opposition, to clarify things.

    Anything beyond that is senseless !

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