Posted by BongV on Dec 16, 2014
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
The recent wedding of celebrities Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes was a topic of the town, especially with how roads were blocked off to “exclusivize” traffic routes for guests, and no less than the president of the Philippines’ presence at the affair. While both aspects were criticized for the inconvenience to others and mixed up priorities, there was another aspect seen that may reflect the country’s dysfunctions. As fellow blogger FallenAngel raised, it’s a government official’s wedding, they’ll be slammed even if they spent their own money. But if it’s a private citizen, many come to the defense. Perhaps even if the private citizen might be an embezzler or crime lord. As long as it’s someone famous.
Another part of the Filipino mindset is revealed once again, that Filipinos seem to be willing fantards for celebrities and “elite.” What’s the derogatory term? Starstruck ignoramuses. It’s a funny irony, too. Many Filipinos seem to hate the “elite” for the problems of the country, but other Filipinos seem to admire this same “elite,” or the actors and singers associated with them. They fawn over the romance stories of these celebrities as if this is the most important thing in the world, further demonstrating the tsismis dysfunction that is a stubborn part of Filipino communities.
Again, it’s the same old sickness of focusing on personalities rather than principles or platforms. But it also demonstrates the same thing that appears when Manny Pacquiao is in the limelight again and Filipinos shout “proud to be Pinoy:” they look for the temporary high that comes with identifying with a celebrity, rather than look for a long-term solution that helps them achieves the same status of that celebrity. They seem to feel good when Pacquiao wins a fight, or when a Filipina beauty wins a crowns or even comes close. It seems to be nothing more than the barriotic attitude of showbiz kilig.
It also demonstrates what former American First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said:
The smallness of Filipino attitudes, like what I described above, this fantard drunkenness of showbiz kilig is what helps keep Filipino society dysfunctional. As Benign0 said, this showbiz kilig helps keep people “in their place.” Many Filipinos remain satisfied being the fantards of others while they themselves lament the status of their lives. Hence, we have many children who want nothing more than to be famous actors or singers instead of useful scientists and mathematicians, while their alienated parents work feverishly in other countries to try and give them that life. Another part of the problem is that the peoplewho are supposed to be “intellectuals” and “educated,” or are even “activists” or “reformists” are actually themselves taken by this attitude of fantardism and showbiz kilig.
Thank goodness there are people with sane, civilized and great-minded attitudes who would have nothing of showbiz kilig. They know that showbiz is the worst place to look for people to admire and look up to, since it is nothing but entertainment. They are the real intellectuals, movers, doers and shakers. In other words, these people are not blinded by “heroes.” They hope that Filipinos idolize themselves instead of living stage props. Problem is, the small-minded Filipinos castigate them for being “mayabang.”
Of course, there are some people intellectuals admire, like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks, or others like Stephen Covey, Peter Drucker, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. But as I reemphasize, it’s not the person that is important; it’s the ideas that they represent and practice that are important. If we focus on the platform and not the person, that can break us out of the trap of smallness and bring us to the level of great-mindedness.
Getting out of our showbiz fixation is perhaps one of the major steps to take in actually making the Philippines into a great country.
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.
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.
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Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Did the Dingdong Dantes-Marian Rivera wedding violate the Philippine Civil Code against ‘thoughtless extravagance’?
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 ExtravaganceThoughtless 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.]
Possibly no survivors was the grim prognosis as more and more information trickled in following the pinpointing of the location of the crash site of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 which went missing last Sunday, the 28th December 2014. Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported as of 8:38 p.m. that according to the most recent update from the Indonesian Navy, more than 40 bodies have been recovered from the site. However, there have since been conflicting reports as to exactly how many have actually been found.
Henry Bambang Soelistyo, Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency chief later clarified…
“Today we evacuated three bodies and they are now in the warship Bung Tomo,” Bambang Soelistyo told a news conference in Jakarta, adding that they were two females and one male.Navy spokesman Manahan Simorangkir told AFP earlier that according to naval radio a warship had recovered more than 40 bodies from the sea. But he later said that report was a miscommunication by his staff.
This brings closure to questions on the fate of QZ8501 which departed Surabaya on Sunday and was supposed to have arrived in Singapore at 8:30 a.m. (Singapore time) had it not gone missing. Reuters reports, “About 30 ships and 21 aircraft from Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and the United States have been involved in the search.”
The Indonesian Navy is currently busy with operations to recover debris and bodies from the wreckage, the main parts of which are thought to be lying on the seabed. The United States will be deploying a second warship, the USS Fort Worth to assist in the recovery effort.
As all this transpired,another AirAsia plane was involved in a mishap, this time in Kalibo City, Philippines. The plane, an Airbus A320-200 (similar to that of the ill-fated QZ8501) arriving from Manila overshot the runway as it attempted to land in windy weather coming to rest in the grassy area past the end of the runway where it remains as of this writing. Flight Z2272, Manila-Kalibo had 159 passengers and crew aboard but no injuries or casualties have been reported.
[Featured photo of Jakarta Airport official courtesy Independent.co.uk.]
Pope Francis’s visit to the Philippines is shaping out to be the country’s biggest coming event. Already there’s a scramble to fill precious slots that would bring ordinary folk within the pontiff’s breathing space — whether it be seats in the pope’s flight from Rome to Manila, or a place in His Eminence’s dining table, Filipinos are clambering over one another for a piece of St Peter’s successor and God’s earthly vassal.
A good thing papal climbers might want to keep in mind in the midst of all this is Jesus Christ’s message in Luke 14:8-11…
When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, `Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, `Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
That lesson aside (or rather having long sailed far above most Filipinos’ heads), the circus, it seems, is already coming to town
Already a gaffe coming from no less than the Philippines’ biggest media enterprise is already making waves. ABS-CBN Network had earlier advertised souvenir T-shirts with the messages “No race. No religion. I embrace diversity” and “Ganito ako, ganyan ka. Who am I to judge.” The messages were supposedly meant to convey the spirit of openness that Pope Francis espouses. Unfortunately, Pope Francis does, as a matter of fact, serve as the head of the world’s largest organised religion, something that the Philippines’ Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) highlighted as potentially “misleading”. CBCP president further emphasized…
“Francis has never said and taught that religion and race do not matter, because they most certainly do. It is what selfish, uncharitable and judgmental people do with religion and race that is a problem.”
Apparently both parties in this quaint exchange seem to have presumed that the good Pope couldn’t speak for himself. Fair enough perhaps, considering the Pope himself may not have much of a choice when it comes to diplomatic protocol. During his visit to the Philippines, exclusive chit chat with President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III and his sisters come first in the agenda of the Malacanang leg…
After the singing of the national anthem and the hoisting of the flags of the two states, Pope Francis will proceed to the Reception Hall for the signing of the official guestbook of Malacañang. He will then be ushered into the Music Room for the courtesy call where Aquino’s immediate family members, including his sisters, will be introduced to the Pontiff.
This, despite what will likely to be a queue of Filipinos hoping to be invited to the Malacanang delegation. People who don’t own a prized slot in Aquino’s inner circle shouldn’t hold their breath. According to Communications Secretary “Sonny” Herminio Coloma, it is “customary for Cabinet officials to be present.”
The mass to be celebrated by Pope Francis at the Manila Cathedral following his Malacanang courtesy call is also reportedly reserved for the Philipines’ Catholic elite. According to Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, “the Mass on January 16, 2015, will be for bishops, priests, and consecrated persons” only. To be fair, subsequent masses to be celebrate by the pontiff at Manila’s Luneta park and in Tacloban City will be open to the public. Tacloban City was the centre of destruction and loss of life suffered by Filipinos when Super Typhoon Haiyan struck in November, 2013.
What many observers are speculating on is how the who’s-who of Filipino politicians in the race for plum government posts in the lead up to the 2016 elections will be capitalising on the papal visit for their political ends. 2015, as such, is a campaign year and there will be epal (a Filipinoism for “grandstanding”) aplenty. Still, the Pope will be a tough nut to crack. The pontiff is known to shun VIP treatment and overbearing security measures. During his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories in May this year, he opted to decline the use of armoured cars, preferring instead to ride his usual white open-top “popemobile”. So finding a way to hook Pope Francis into a media stunt to jump-start (or resuscitate) a public image will be top of mind for Filipino politicians in the coming weeks.
Pope Francis also does not use big armoured limousines as his official means of road travel in Rome preferring, instead, a Ford Focus, a more humble mid-sized sedan, for use as his personal ride. This simple lifestyle will likely put to shame Filipino politicians who often travel around the country’s roads in big black SUVs more than twice the size of the Pope’s car, in motorcades consisting of chase vehicles bristling with gun barrels poking out of their windows, and accompanied by entourages that would dwarf the team of aides that attend to the needs of God’s earthly prince.
Finally, it should be noted that the Pope will be visiting the selfie capital of the world. So along with crowd control there will be selfie control initiatives as well. An article published on the Pope’s official Philippine Visit website quoted Catholic radio anchor Ansel Beluso’s appeal to the Pope’s Fillipino fans…
“May I just say this: When we take a selfie with a life-size image of Pope Francis on a standee, can we please be more reverential about it? I find it disrespectful when people wrap their arms [around] the Pope’s shoulder, acting like they’re on the same level with him, grinning, patting his head, and mocking his baldness,” he said.
There you go. Many Filipinos have yet to learn the key lessons that one would think will have been learned by the time they graduated kindergarten. Not to worry. As pointed out earlier, the Bible has much to teach grown-ups about good manners too.
[Featured thumbnail photo: Pope Francis on the popemobile courtesyWheels.ca.]