Friday, January 6, 2012

Scratches and Sketches: It's More Crabs in the Philippines? O R'lyeh?

I've been translating, since I feel like I cannot write anything decent recently, but that's really beside the point. Before anything else, let me just say that I am writing this, and the commentaries to come, out of the need to speak my mind regarding a lot of art-related issues--as I have been having sentiments that I'd rather not air because of a motherfucker named self-censorship. Take whatever assertions herein as inquiries. This particular column shall be commentaries on sociopolitical issues. "Scratches & Sketches" was first used in my column at the Makiling Views community newspaper, a class requirement, way back 2008 [?].

I would rather not comment on the plagiarism, originality, It's more fun in Switzerland, commotion, whether it is a tagline, a headline, a slogan, or whatever is not something that bothers me, and I have no issue as regards the creativity, artfulness, and anything involving the aesthetics, the form, (though as a friend remarked, it is jeje, and I have nothing against jeje) but I think the genius behind the idea of "It's more fun in the Philippines" is something that deserves recognition. Why?

I think the choice of words prepared the campaign (yun nga ba tawag dun? di ako sure) for probable, perceived attacks. Whoever shall dare diss the campaign may outright be labeled as any of the following: killjoy (KJ!), pessimist, cynical, anti-Filipino, and, of course, talangka, or crab, as in crab mentality--the favorite catch phrase used by apologists against those who challenge the status quo by airing out sentiments (fave din nila yung, "puro naman kayo reklamo!").

Sadly, we have different persepectives. We think different thoughts, and we can't just support something because it is conceived by a kapwa Pilipino. Joining such a bandwagon of faux nationalism seems naive, if not misinformed. Maybe we should ask ourselves again, what or who is the Bayan? We love the chunks of islands, since they are ours, and they are beautiful and we shall be proud of it? Is that it? Territorial? Do you believe that we really our in control of our natural resources? And, what does it mean to be Makabayan, roughly translated as Nationalist? Does living in a delusion count? That we, the 99%, are doing fine and having fun? The problem of this culture of being carefree is double-edged. It may help us cope, but it may also develop indifference.

Now, you may opt to leave as you are discerning (lantaran na nga!) that this entry is nega or bad vibes (terms these days, awkward gamitin!), and if you do, go on and leave and live in your comfort zones where everything is fun and free from crabs, but try to consider and ponder how the sentiments are genuine. If you are still with me at this point, despite my being KJ, let me suggest that criticism against the campaign are neither baseless, pessimist, cynical whims nor the Filipino people loathing themselves for the sake of it. And, no, they are not being crabs because, I think, if we can agree and meet half-way at some point, it is the unity that we have that nationalism in us, and we do not fail at being proud and associating our selves with renowned Filipinos, claiming their victories as our own, since we are brothers and all that kinship, support etc etc.

So, no, criticism does not necessarily mean crab mentality, especially if the sentiments are shared by a number of people who has nothing to do, or has no relation at all, or has no personal grudges against the minds behind the campaign. Sentiments questioning the truth in the claim that "It's more fun in the Philippines" are valid, objective, realistic, and down-to-earth. Well, you ask yourselves, is it really more fun in the Philippines? Well, it is. The government puts premium to corporate interests at the expense of the living conditions of its people, cares a hell lot more about what the tourists think at the expense of what the people feel, and accepts the destiny of this country to be a cash cow at the expense of genuine service to its people, among many other punchlines that are so fun they hurt.

It is fine to laugh things away by making fun of the campaign and turning it into a meme, but it is sad if it shall end there. It is up to us to make the Philippines more fun for the rest of us who felt that the campaign is misleading. Being drunk with happiness is different from having fun while coping with the times and pushing for change. The former discourages thinking--reacting against any critical thought, pushing any suggestion away, reeking of boundless, mindless liberty, while the latter opens the room for discourse--attempting to find certain truths, welcoming alternatives, and struggling to unite.

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