Sunday, August 09, 2015

Charot vs chaka


My August 9, 2015 column.
Gayspeak is in the news, and sadly,
for the wrong reasons.
Malacañan Palace and the Office of the Vice President
have been trading barbs, using gayspeak. Presidential spokesperson
Edwin Lacierda started the catfight by calling
Vice President Jejomar Binay’s recent True State-of-the-Nation Address
“charot” - which is gaypeak for something that should not be taken seriously
such as a joke, a frivolous action or statement, or a charade.
Binay’s camp through spokesperson Joey Salgado came back with a more
catty response done in more colorful gayspeak: “Imbey ang fez ni Secretarush
dahil trulalu ang spluk ni VP. Pero ang SONA ng pangulo, chaka ever
sa madlang pipol dahil hindi trulalu” (roughly, “Secretary Lacierda is
annoyed because what the VP said was the truth.  But the President’s SONA
was derided by the masses because what he said was not true.”)
Aside from Lacierda and Salgado and their rabid supporters, I don’t think
anyone else was amused - not even the local gay community.
There were lots of eyebrows raised. In general, almost everyone
thought that the exchange was unbecoming of mature statesmen.  
Of course the bright boys in Malacañan Palace tried to give the
whole thing a positive spin. The usually earnest Communications
Secretary Sonny Coloma tried to deflect criticism of Lacierda -
and the Palace because darn it, Lacierda is the official spokersperson
of the President of the Republic - by saying that the Palace allows
gayspeak or any form of communication as long as “it speaks the truth.”
I hope the Palace remembers Coloma’s wise counsel the next time
someone takes the President to task for unfulfilled promises such
as those he made to the widows and families of the Fallen 44 and
the victims of super typhoon Yolanda by using colorful language.
To begin with, I don’t think anyone believes that Lacierda and Salgado
used gayspeak as a means of promoting the language, or granting it
legitimacy, or as a way of recognizing the gay community as a valid
source of commentary. Lacierda used “charot” to illustrate the extent
of his condescencion towards Binay; the choice of word and language
was deliberate. He picked gayspeak to give his message the required
level of derision. The subtext was clear: Just like gayspeak,
you are not to be taken seriously. 
If Lacierda, Coloma and company disagree, I dare them to
describe the President’s next speech or activity in gayspeak -
they can start by defending the government’s actions towards the
Yolanda victims as “keribels,” or describing the conditional
cash transfer program as “bonggacious.” Sige nga!  
Salgado’s retort may have been provoked, but the fact that
he responded in form proved that the VP’s camp is no different.
They are all insensitive.
It is also important to point out that while gayspeak is used
by the local gay community, it has a specific context.
Not even gay people use gayspeak in public occasions!
When heterosexuals appropriate gayspeak for their own purposes,
particularly as a political tool to denigrate or dismiss the worth
of others, it is far from ennobling. It contributes to marginalization.
***
When Joseph Estrada ran for office as mayor of Manila,
he made a lot of promises - essentially, he said that he was going
to be a better mayor than Alfredo Lim. Estrada’s first term as mayor
is almost ending and there’s very little improvement in the city.
I live in Manila so I am familiar with the aggravations on a daily basis.
Traffic in Manila has gone from bad to worst. Gridlock along areas
where there is a major construction such as in San Andres, Paco,
and Nagtahan may be understandable - but they can be alleviated
by some deliberate traffic management efforts. But bedlam in areas
where there are no construction projects is unacceptable, such as in
Vito Cruz Street, which is caused by buses that use the two-lane
street as terminal and by the presence of too many colorum tricycles.
In fact, there seems to be more of these colorum tricycles
everywhere in Manila.
Our neighborhood has been sleepless in the last month
because of a major public works project being done on our street.
The problem is that the contractors do their heavy equipment work
at midnight when everyone is trying to rest. This is because of
that darn truck ban in the city - the contractors can only haul the
concrete and the rest of the debris only at midnight.

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