Megan Young’s Success a Chance for Filipinos to Break Free from Xenocentrism

Photo taken from the official Megan Young Facebook Page

Photo taken from the official Megan Young Facebook Page

Though belated, I want to greet our very own Megan Young a big congratulations for winning the Miss World 2013 crown last September 28, 2013 in Bali, Indonesia! She, by far, is the most successful product of a locally-produced reality show. She started as one of the competitors in season 2 of the celebrity search “Starstruck” on GMA Network. I really thought that she would make it big back then, even if she finished off as an Avenger. Again, CONGRATULATIONS MEGAN YOUNG!

As with anyone who achieves worldwide success, Megan has already earned herself a bunch of critics, including a woman named Devina Dediva, who got attacked by Filipinos in the cyberworld. If you haven’t noticed yet, then I’ve to say that Filipinos don’t take criticism well, be it in the form of a joke, or a serious comment. Rather than ignore or meaningfully engage, many of us choose the low road and react defensively, complete with racist remarks, demands for public apology and calls to the government to declare certain public figures persona non grata. Many have publicly apologized. A personality has been declared persona non grata. And now Dediva has been fired from her job because of comments she had made.

This collective display of oversensitivity seems to be working, but it doesn’t mean it’s right. As the world is becoming more open because of social media, we Filipinos are called to be more mindful of our reactions, and engage when needed. It’s something that we have to learn to do, even if would take time. Megan Young’s success is an opportunity for us to begin doing this. If as a people we view racially-discriminatory remarks as unjust, shouldn’t we be applying it not just to us, but to everyone else?

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Million People March at Ayala

Million People March 2

Right now, there is a discussion on the Disbursement Allocation Program (DAP), prompted by Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s “revelation” about lawmakers who received money after voting to convict former Chief Justice Renato Corona. Malacanang defended the allocation of such money, saying that they were released under what is called the Disbursement Allocation Program. While this “revelation” is significant as it shows the government’s larger system of spoils, this also seems like a blatant diversion to the PDAF scam. Estrada aimed to divert people’s attention away from the PDAF scam and his friends Bong Revilla, Johnny Enrile and Janet Lim Napoles, by making known the DAP scam. But it’s not making him look better, because he was also involved in it. He has placed himself in so much hot water, that he will come out deep-fried.

Anyway, why I am putting this issue again to the fore? Because for the nth time, I would want our government to know that we ARE watching and NOT stopping. I want people to not forget. The Philippine panopticon is working better and clearer upside down, contrast to the way its windows were fogged because of ultra-low temperature air-conditioning when it was standing upright. Our lawmakers used to not mind us the middle class – they couldn’t see through the fog that covered them and their corrupt ways. Now that they can see us, they are minding us, fearing and trying to hide from us.

The next rally that we will be having will be tomorrow, October 4, 2013, in Ayala Avenue, in Makati, from 5:30 pm onwards. It’s the second Million People March. Makati is the biggest business district Metro Manila, so I expect to see employees and big business leaders gather to listen to the concrete calls to action that will be laid out. In all of the Philippines’ people power history, this might be the most unromanticized one, and most productive just yet because it will have objective follow-throughs, not bent on exacting revenge on anyone, but real change in the system. Just like any business proposal that has been approved, the anti-PDAF movement will finally have a to-do list in order to reach its goals.

This is a good political exercise, because it shows the people’s propensity now to engage, not just with civil society groups, but private individuals who want change. It’s something monumental, and because of this, I hope all of us who can, would join.

Your Judgments About Other People Define You More Than Them

Judgements

Photo: The Hope Movement Tumblr

I’ll be honest – I had the tendency to judge a lot way before, based on a person’s appearance, the books they read, the places they hang out in or  the music they listen to. In other words, I only had shallow thoughts about other people. And I would defend myself by saying, “But that’s true!”

Let’s face it, a lot of us are guilty of that tendency to be shallow. We’ve raised our eyes at people in their twenty- or thirtysomethings who openly declare their love to K-Pop, One Direction, Miley Cyrus, Ke$ha and laugh at those who read (gasp!) Precious Hearts Romances.  We would not be caught hanging out in some dingy watering hole that play Filipino jukebox hits or have Aegis or April Boy Regino. We roll our eyes at anyone who wants to go all out fashionista in the Manila heat.

For all the angst we have against the capitalist or political elite, we ourselves have the tendency to be closed off and discriminatory against anyone who isn’t part of our “ranks”, and declare our observations as truth. And we do not kid when we judge based on our preferences. Our judgments are not part of some comedy bar spiel – our judgments form what we believe to be true about other people.

But “truth” is  very relative according to one’s upbringing and personal and social experiences.  What is true to me, may not be true to him or her. What is accepted as uncool to me, is accepted as awesome to another person. What’s accepted as hip for me, is seen as over-the-top for another person. At the end of the day, these aren’t really important. Entertainment and fashion preferences don’t define you, but your behavior in terms of interacting with other people, including how you view them. Your judgments on other people define you and your relationship with them. Other things that define you is the way you deal with good opportunities and face challenges and also partly your political beliefs.

That is why I love the expressions “Walang basagan ng trip”, and “Kanya-kanyang trip iyan”. The two Filipino expressions basically mean that a person has his/her own preferences and should be left to live life and love the things that he/she likes. It connotes respect for a person and the context he or she is in. Of course there are certain limitations. Committing heinous crimes, being corrupt and doing other blatantly evil and hurtful acts are excluded.

That’s all. So before saying anything about another person, remember – your judgments about other people define you more than them.

The Philippines’ Million People March

It has almost been a week since the Million People March in Luneta, here in Manila in the Philippines. The Million People March took its name from the 1995 Million Man March movement that fought for African-Americans’ civil rights.  The Million People March was prompted by the widespread anger against the intricate system of corruption … Continue reading

Public Perception and Neutrality

Two weeks ago, a man was arrested on charges of scamming Philippine generals.  Just yesterday, a man was arrested on charges of importing 8 kilograms of methamphetamine. What’s common about both of these men is that my guy and I have seen and interacted with them as they belonged to the same educational institutions we used to go to.

It’s pretty shocking to read up on news about someone you’ve known – either personally, by name or by face – being arrested for involvement in a crime. What’s sad is that they end up being on the news because of such incidents. Their guilt has yet to be proven but  unfortunately many people are already judging them. While perceptions may change as soon as trials commence and other facts come out, for now, many choose to castigate them. Many choose to not care about them as good people in school, to their friends and family or their right to fair trial because of what they have allegedly done.

Such is the misfortune of people who are perceived to be involved in crimes and other wrongdoing in society. To be viewed by the public negatively is inevitable. This is why some people are lynched on the streets and some people are being subject to trial by publicity. And this is why one must surround himself or herself with positive people and avoid tricky situations to prevent things like this from happening later on.

Neutrality will never be the norm so we must always be careful with our decisions and actions.


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