This column welcomes you to mayhem, into the center of the marching mad. A terrorist suspect’s tortured face headlines national television, while a half-dozen mothers mourn the flag-wrapped coffins of their decapitated sons. The administration offers clemency to a man four days after he dies of lung cancer, while the government calls his death “a supervening event” and the delay a failure in communications.
The first First Gentleman is denounced for selling secondhand helicopters as brand-new to an impoverished police force, then calls the secretary of justice a liar for claiming he failed to pass through immigrations in his flight to Hong Kong.
This is a report from Manila in the beginning of the drowning season, a little more than a week after the President of the Republic makes a car siren the standard for good and evil. In the spirit of goodwill towards a misunderstood administration, this column adopts the language of His Excellency, and records the state of this week’s nation to the tune of a whining “wang.”
Wang goes Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who answers a demand for a public apology by humbly apologizing in behalf of the Bureau of Immigration while forgetting to apologize in behalf of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
Wang goes the Freedom of Information Bill and the right to reproductive health, as the President bowed before the almighty wang of Holy Mother Church in his State of the Nation Address, forgetting to acknowledge the Muslim Imams and the witnesses to Buddha and Jehovah and born-again Christians. Artists are charged with blasphemy. A series of video clips demonstrate hazing in the Philippine National Police. Actress Maricel Soriano’s maid claims her boss gave her the dirty finger.
The “wanging” goes on as the wankers surge forth, and yet in a week of bad deals and worse atrocities, the state of the nation takes on an odd glitter.
An elected official caught in a national controversy resigns from his elected post, offering the first dignified political exit to recent history. A team of athletes stripped of their status goes on to fight in the world championships with borrowed paddles and a depleted membership to prove that politics cannot stop the rage of dragons. A general is held accountable by two of his victims after five long years of waiting. The state’s cultural agency holds its ground in the face of a moral juggernaut, even as the oldest university washes its hands. Ruffa Gutierrez gets back her shoes, and a taxi driver is justly rewarded for owning a conscience.
The President may appear odd in his State of the Nation Address’ attempt to convince congressmen that poverty is a matter of national interest – odd because his argument appeals not to congressional duty but to congressional self-interest –but his attempt, spoken as the son of the elite, may be what is necessary to push poverty into the forefront of the congressional agenda.
“How can [the poor] buy products and services from businesses if they do not have a proper income? When a poor father turns to crime in order to feed his family, who would he victimize, if not us? When people cannot properly take care of themselves and fall ill, do we not run the risk of getting sick as well?”
“We,” it is to be assumed, refers to the President and the small group of landed gentry and Porsche-owning celebrity in the House of Representatives whose pineapple silk and butterfly sleeves control most of the nation’s national wealth.
Much has been said about the State of the Nation Address, and this column offers little more. This much must be said – finally, there stood a president whose speech did not include any references to heroic fathers or sainted mothers or revolutions of prayer and confetti made possible by the will of God and people.
He was Noynoy Aquino, finally president, whose father and mother were no longer trotted out at public events to serve as props to their son’s claim to power. Instead he built his own mythology, and although jacking the juice out of his “wangwang” metaphor a third of the way through was not particularly inspiring, there’s something to be said about the persistence of his thrust. In the course of a 53-minute speech, the President brandished his metaphorical wang 23 times against the evils of corruption, the sale of second-hand helicopters and the dangers of overpriced caffeine.
This is a report from Manila, in the beginning of the drowning season, where one less car siren is perhaps as good a standard for progress as is the unemployment index. And although it is premature for His Excellency to announce that “We have put an end to the culture of entitlement, to wang-wang: along our roads, in government, in our society as a whole,” there is much to celebrate, even one less wanker with a grip on the state of the nation.