It’s in the news and is all the buzz amongst the mutual high-fivin’ titas of Manila who are reveling in the idea that they have once again scored a Great Woke Cancellation. University of the Philippines Executive Vice President Teodoro J. Herbosa had recently tendered his resignation. News site Interaksyon “reports” that this was “after his tweets earned backlash from some Twitter users”. This “report”, however, failed to mention what specific political bloc or clique of “Twitter users” were the primary sources of this “backlash”.
“Reporter” Jeline Malasig who authored the Interaksyon “report” goes into some detail on Herbosa’s offense to the “decent” mob writing further…
“Death by ‘community pantry.’ I told you so!” he tweeted with an accompanying screenshot of a report of News5.
“Mali ito. Don’t even try to defend this is right. Daming mag ka COVID19 diyan!” Herbosa added.
He also shared screengrabs of a video featuring the incident and wrote, “Tama po ba ito?”
Herbosa was referring to the death of 67-year-old Rolando dela Cruz who was part of an enormous crowd that gathered around the ill-fated community pantry organised by ABS-CBN starlet Angel Locsin on the occasion of her birthday last week. One can therefore reasonably argue that Dela Cruz’s death was a case of death by community pantry. If there had been no community pantry on that day, then Mr Rolando dela Cruz would likely still be alive today. Simple logic, right?
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The more important point to be made here is that the notion of Death by Community Pantry can be thought of as one that describes the overall macro character of Philippine society. Community pantry disasters such as in the case of Locsin’s “birthday pantry” are microcosms of the way Filipinos generally regard the nature of their personal fortunes. To the average Filipino, bad fortune is a punishment from God and good fortune is a reward from God. They manifest this fate-based view of life in their politics ascribing good and bad things to the rich and powerful. They move like flocks of sheep prompted by the “shepherd” figures ingrained in their collective psyches by their medieval religion and dishonest politics.
The “good shepherds” that organised these community pantries and the “evangelists” who drummed up the media spectacles around these are arguably what pulled in the dangerous throngs that put lives and property at huge risk. In her recent blog post “Privilege, pantries, and the poor”, Opposition thought leader Katrina Stuart-Santiago asserts that “encouraging the poor to travel from their communities, with the little cash that they have, so they might fall in line for a pantry where they are implicitly told to take little, is just unkind. It is also reckless.” She writes how this unkindness grew out of “a romanticization of the poor that is borne of a privileged gaze”. She continues — perhaps making reference to an ironically capitalist impulse to scale or industrialise an initiative that, by its very nature, is best kept small — to describe the flawed thinking applied to these so-called community pantries that ultimately turned them to the sad perversions we see today…
The decision to raise funds or ask for goods beyond the community of one pantry, and inadvertently encouraging the poor to come in droves to the pantries they see on TV, defeats the pantry’s purpose. You lose “community” and the notion of assisting your neighbors; you lose the time and energy you need to forge connections within the community, across the privileged and the poor, towards standing in solidarity, beyond this act of charity.
It is evident here and in the similar manner that Filipinos, their “activists”, and their politicians routinely turn what were originally good ideas into abominations as a continuous death by good intention. Consider then; community pantries started out as such — good intentions. Somebody died as a result of that good intention turned bad after the people in the jackboots goose-stepped into the picture waving their ideological banners. Death by community pantry. Only in the Philippines.
If all those self-appointed “virtues” that Filipinos take pride in really delivered real outcomes — our prayerfulness, bayanihan spirit, generosity to “the poor”, and all the chi chi man-for-others stuff taught to us up that Hill — were actually worth the hundreds of thousands of pesos parents of today’s “thought leaders” paid the Catholic Mafia to shove down their kids’ throats then, surely, the Philippines would be the world’s richest country by now. Yet to this day Filipinos continue to shrug their collective shoulders asking: Where are the results?
Oh, to be so educated and yet turn out to be so unkind — and so reckless.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.