Sunday, October 04, 2015

Twerking to infamy



My October 4, 2015 column.
The official campaign period for the 2016 national elections hasn’t started yet, 
but the circus has already come to town. The circus acts are bound to be more risqué 
and the gimmicks dirtier because of, first, the intense competition among the various 
political parties, and second, it is just so much harder now to entice people to come 
to political gatherings just so they can listen to some candidate regurgitate shameless 
self-promotion propaganda. 
Gyrating dancers clad in sexy attires; singers who slither onstage and flirt with candidates 
and the audience; lewd and bawdy jokes and statements with double entendre 
or laden with innuendoes­—these have always been the staple of political sorties 
for as far back as I can remember. My earliest memory of a political rally happened 
when I was a little boy and it involved a female singer in sequined shorts singing 
“Saging ni Pacing” onstage while feeding a mayoral candidate and his slate of mostly 
male candidates ripe bananas. In the last national elections, I actually witnessed the late 
Tiya Pusit singing “Pusong Bato” while literally taking liberties of the male senatorial 
candidates of the opposition onstage, much to the amusement and howling of the audience. 
These antics have been proven to get crowd all worked up—sex, after all, is a 
universal preoccupation. Unfortunately, it’s also difficult to contain these kinds of acts 
and they do stray beyond what is socially acceptable in most cases.
Fortunately, it is now easier to expose shenanigans in the campaign trail because 
everyone in this country happens to have a cellphone with a video camera which 
we all like to whip out at every opportunity. This predilection has reached what 
I think is a sad point where people already forego the opportunity to fully enjoy 
or savor special moments just because they happen to be more focused on recording 
the event and watching the proceedings from the small LED screen of their cellular 
phones, but I digress. We’ve become a nation of camcorders that events in this country
are now set up so that they will actually look good in video footages. It is now customary 
for people to whip out their cellular phones at any event and take video footage 
as if their inability to record the event will diminish their appreciation of the whole
 experience. And of course we also like to share­—videos, in particular, including those 
that really should remain private, but that’s another story.
I must admit that I, too, was outraged at the videos taken during a recent Liberal Party 
event (the birthday celebration of a congressman but which was attended by party bigwigs) 
which showed a group of female dancers twerking against the crotches of grown men, 
presumably politicians. In fact, I was aghast that no one among those who were present 
seemed to have had the presence of mind to think of the repercussions of such a performance 
finding its way to the Internet given the number of cellular phones that were recording it. 
The dance move (twerking) is already scandalous in the eyes and minds of many people 
as it simulates the sex act. Doing so with a partner onstage is taking it beyond clean fun. 
I fully understand why people are outraged—it’s not just about reducing women to 
sexual objects, it’s also about public decorum, particularly involving public officials. 
However, I think it is quite a stretch to drag Liberal Party candidate Mar Roxas into 
the issue considering that he was not there. I find the attempts of some people—obviously 
from people who are virulently against a Roxas presidency—to insinuate that Mar Roxas 
was one of the guys a dancer was gyrating against quite foul. There were also accusations
 that the dance performance was a “gift” from Metro Manila Development Authority 
chairman Francis Tolentino although this has been vigorously denied.
What we know is that habits are hard to change and that our political parties continue 
to be ruled by traditional politicians who perpetuate sordid acts that sully our political 
systems. We also know that vigilance by ordinary citizens are making a difference 
insofar as changing the system is concerned.
Now that the twerking video has become viral and the culprits have been rightfully 
chastised, I guess we won’t be seeing girls twerking in political rallies anymore. 
This doesn’t mean, though, that candidates won’t be turning into clowns and wannabe 
singers and dancers and comedians. 

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