This blog does not claim to be always right. The blogger has no pretensions about being morally, politically, or ideologically correct. This blog contains random thoughts, rants, raves, hysterical protestations and sporadic thinking aloud by a person who is not out to please anyone or pander to anyone's idea of what is acceptable or ideal. Feel free to disagree, it is a free country.
Manifestations of hate
My May 10, 2015 column. Racism, bigotry, and the other behavioral manifestations of hate and immaturity had most of us bothered, confused, and confounded in the last few days.
I am sure many parents who are serious about helping their kids grow up to become better people had a difficult time trying to explain the uproar over the seeming bigoted or racist comments spewed by a Thai national on a social media account, and then by the prejudiced attacks by many Filipinos, including celebrities, directed at Floyd Mayweather in the aftermath of that heartbreaking and infuriating result of the supposed Fight of the Century. To make matters worse, when Philippine authorities did try to do what they thought was right or necessary by deporting the Thai national and showing pictures of the guy in handcuffs at the airport, there was also a corresponding uproar, with many Filipinos calling to task the Philippine government for what they thought was a disproportionate reaction.
Let’s first talk about the case of Kosin Prasertsri, more popularly known as Koko Narak. The Thai national posted comments on a social media account deemed insulting, derogatory, and racist by many Filipinos. Calling Filipinos “Pigsnoys,” Narak went berserk spewing what he tried to justify later as frankness and attempts at humor on his part. When we really come to think about it, the things he said did have some basis; they represented some of our frailties as a people. However, Narak went beyond socially acceptable norms. First, he is a guest in the country and guests don’t typically diss their hosts. Second, whatever good or non-malicious intent was overshadowed by the seeming recklessness in how he expressed himself. His observations were coached in ways that seemed to taunt and belittle rather than simply criticize. And finally, anyone who wants to express an opinion publicly, particularly if the opinion aims to assert a certain degree of superiority, must establish a certain degree of credibility. Like I always tell my students, if you must criticize, do it well —argue fairly, express yourself clearly and logically, and please check your grammar and spelling. It’s not exactly the best rebuttal, but it’s difficult to argue with someone who pontificates about how “an author who could not even be bothered to get his spelling and grammar right cannot be taken seriously.” Narak, quite frankly, expressed himself in ways that would give English teachers anywhere a massive coronary attack.
But in the same week that our blood boiled over Narak’s tortured verbal diarrhea, many Filipinos went into a similar frenzy, this time alternately mocking or bashing Mayweather for supposedly being a lesser person, or at least, a lesser fighter. Many of the comments were shamelessly racist such as those that mocked the color of his skin, or his thick lips, or the way he spoke. And then there were the many comments that clearly reeked of prejudice. For example, relating Mayweather’s supposed predilection for evading punches by “dancing around” and his strategy of “hugging” Pacquiao as characteristics of gay people was a gross generalization that demeaned and derogated gay people. Why should presumed cowardice, deviousness, and lack of aggressiveness be equated with gay people?
So while Narak’s comments were infuriating and deserved condemnation (I am not sure though if it was criminal, or if the swift punishment meted out by the Philippine government was fair), it is important that we also examine our own tendencies to indulge in the same behavior.
Quite frankly, I know so many people – many of them people who flaunt their supposed impeccable credentials as professionals or their advanced education – who routinely make reckless, tactless, and often plainly prejudiced or bigoted comments directed at our leaders, certain sectors of Philippine society particularly the socially or economically disadvantaged, and yes, marginalized communities. Someone I know, for example, who ironically claims to champion the welfare of the poor, thinks nothing of belittling poor people for the supposed inconvenience they cause to working people such as overloading public transportation, clogging roads, or flooding the Internet with supposedly inane commentary, as if projecting one’s prejudice and negativity is a better alternative to someone’s jologs commentary.
I agree, this thing called political correctness is something we are still trying to get better at.
However, while I do think that a large part of the issue has to do with political correctness, I maintain that the more effective and proactive response is not just to teach people the nuances of political correctness but to help them become more sensitive to and appreciative of diversity issues. Merely telling people to tone down their bigotry does not eradicate the problem but helping them get over their prejudices may be a more helpful approach.
We need to constantly remind people of three things. Before spewing hateful or critical comments particularly when one is emotionally agitated, think first: What good will your comments do to yourself and to others? Second, contrary to what you think, the Internet or your social networking site is not really private – while not all people you hurt or offend will take steps to let you know of their feelings, ugly feelings don’t die. They fester and resurface in far more uglier ways. The universe does know how to return a favor and karma does get around fast. And finally, prejudice and racism, among others, come from the same source and are manifestations of the same virus – it’s called hate.
I've been having high blood pressure since last Thursday. I had to come home early from work last Thursday because I had a splitting headache and my bp was hovering at 140/120. It eventually went down to 130/90, which in my case is still quite high since my regular bp is 100/70. I've been in bed the whole day yesterday and today - trying not to be stressed out. And yet, my bp is still at 130/100 levels. Sigh.
I would have wanted to join my friends on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Manaoag, but I was afraid the four-hour trip would aggravate my hypertension. Besides, I had a scheduled visit from a reflexologist who claimed to have healed so many with his healing touch. I figured the massage would be relaxing (yeah, I know and he knew that he had to be careful about putting pressure on the nape area).
So let's talk about the reflexology experience first. What can I say, I wish I had the same level of faith as this particular reflexologist. He kept chattering on and on a…
This is my column today. Renato Victor Ebarle Jr. was at the prime of his life; barely 27 years old and just starting to build his career in human resource management. At the time of his death, he was recruitment manager of the Hotel Peninsula Manila. To say that he still had the whole world ahead of him sounds like a cliché but those among us who actually knew him, those among us who were aware of the kind of passion he had for life and for his work, people like me who had the privilege of having been consulted by him on many professional matters, know this with a certain degree of certainty.I was Victor’s professor in three major subjects when he was in college. In each one of them, he sat at the first row, which said a lot about the kind of person he was. Professors know this for a fact: Bullies don’t sit in front of the class where they cannot annoy anyone.I was his thesis adviser and he and his team spent a whole academic school year trying to break new grounds on the question of …
This is my column today. It’s quite hard to describe ourselves collectively as a people. But if there’s something that seems able to capture our essence as a people, it’s the fiesta. First of all, it’s the one experience that seems common to all of us—there are as many fiestas as there are many barangays and barrios in this country.When I was growing up in a small town called Abuyog in the island of Leyte, summer meant the onset of fiesta season. The fiestas were scheduled like clockwork in the months of April and May, as if the elders of the various barrios of the town got together many scores ago to plot a timetable. A fiesta blended together religious fervor, unbridled merriment (including drunken revelry and lots of dancing), traditional games and contests, and needless to say, partaking of large quantities of food, glorious food. Nothing like a fiesta brings out our penchant to do things in the most bongga (over the top) way ever!I think that years of experience have enabled us to…