pop goes the world: anti-what?!

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  21 September 2011, Thursday


Lawmaker Winston Castelo’s proposed “Anti-Planking Act of 2011” was met with derision on the Internet. I loved it – it was the funniest thing I had heard that day.

The ridiculous proposal specifically refers to students and prescribes a “universal code of student conduct whereby planking by a student or a group of students during street rallies or similar protest actions as a form of redress of grievance be strictly prohibited,” with appropriate sanctions to be imposed for violations.

From the proposed law, as posted on Cong. Castelo’s website:

“Sec. 3. Under this Act, planking is when a student or group of students lies face down in unusual locations especially in streets or other public places, keeping the hands along the body and the feet outstretched and especially where such act is meant as a form of redress of grievance against government.

Sec. 4. Every bonafide student from any school, college or university shall conduct himself with high degree of discipline and propriety.

Sec. 5. The Department of Education in the case of elementary and high school students and the Commission on Higher Education in the case of college students shall draft a universal Code of Student Conduct to carry out the provisions of this Act.

Further, DepEd and CHED, respectively shall issue appropriate rules and regulations to effectively carry out intent and purpose of this Act.”

What’s wrong with this Act, apart from the fact that it’s shallow and senseless to begin with?

It is specifically addressed to students. Therefore, if a non-student planks right beside a student during a rally, only the student would be charged. (Is that fair? Whether or not it’s a student who planks, the streets or “unusual location” would still be obstructed!)

Section 3 defines planking as lying “face down” while “keeping the hands along the body and the feet outstretched”. Therefore, if students lie face up or sideways, and/or extend their arms and draw up their feet, they do not violate the Act. (That’s a loophole big enough to drive a tank through.)

Students planking last September 19 to protest oil price hikes. Image here

If students were to be specifically prohibited against planking during rallies, this means they can do “owling” (in which a person squats like an owl in unusual places) or “teapotting” (bending the arms into the “I’m a Little Teapot” nursery song shape) instead – both fads rose after planking went globally viral. Or they could perform “horsemanning” (a photography fad in the 1920s, named after the Headless Horseman in the Washington Irving story – it involves two people posing so as to “appear to be a single body with a detached head”).

Section 4 is so vague it could mean anything; is that the way to write a good law?

Cong. Castelo was also quoted by news media as saying, “…unbelieving bus drivers and law enforcement authorities might just ram through these warm and living bodies rolled out on highways.” (Because motorists and traffic cops are that stupid? “Unbelieving”, what does that even mean in this context? That statement certainly shows a high regard for the intellectual level of the ordinary Juan.)

Why not create a law banning truly hazardous behavior during rallies? These could include the wearing of heavy costumes (they could cause the body to overheat and perspire profusely, leading to body odor), setting effigies and flags on fire (the students might burn themselves or other people and property), rushing the riot police unarmed (the police might retaliate – those water guns pack a hell of a punch), and clenching fists at rallies (because one could accidentally punch someone else in the face).

Presumably, this would be Cong. Castelo’s idea of the proper way to hold a rally – vertically upright, screaming, and obstructing traffic, instead of quietly lying face down and obstructing traffic. Image here.

While we’re at it, how about an “Anti-Flunking Law” (to motivate students to pass their courses)? An “Anti-Plunking Law” (to prevent people from dropping things heavily and abruptly)? An “Anti-Thunking Law” (prohibiting the creation of dull, hollow sounds)?

Seriously, a law against planking? It’s a fad, something that is “generally considered a fleeting behavior” (Wiki). And like all fads, it’ll wear itself out sooner or later and people will go on to the next silly thing. Remember the siete haircut for girls? The bands Menudo or F4? Jejemon?  You don’t? My point exactly. Looking back at these fads, we wonder what the all the fuss surrounding them was for.

Instead of focusing on more urgent matters such as the RH Bill or the Freedom of Information Act, this lawmaker chooses to penalize a fad adopted as a peaceful form of protest.

From what twisted parallel dimension did this galactically stupid and time-and-effort wasting proposal emanate? As a lawyer told me some years ago after I had attended my first Congress hearing, “The Constitution does not set an IQ requirement for people running for public office.”

* * * * *

Art Alert:  It’s going to be a busy Saturday, September 24, with the holding of these three art- and media-related events: first, the Philippine Center of the International PEN (Poets & Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists) will launch and hold book-club discussions on UP professor emerita Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo’s latest book, Six Sketches of Filipino Women Writers, on September 24, 5 pm, at Solidaridad Bookstore, Padre Faura near Adriatico, Ermita, Manila.

Second, the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication will hold its Grand Alumni and Faculty Homecoming at the Bahay Alumni, UP Diliman. “Wer na U, Hir na Me: The CMC Grand iBall” celebrates UP-CMC’s 46th year foundation. Recognition will be given to former professors and to the Ruby (1971) and Silver (1986) Jubilarians, while a special tribute will be given to the college’s own “Aling Suming” (Consuelo Agapito), familiar to taga-Maskom over several decades.

Third, anthropologist Padmapani Perez’s Mt. Cloud Bookshop at Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road, Baguio City, invites poetry lovers to “Baguio is dead. Long live Baguio at 102!” It’s a poetry slam competition that starts at 6pm and is a joint project of Mt. Cloud Bookshop and the Baguio Writers’ Group.

Members of the Baguio Writers’ Group read to children at Mt.Cloud Bookshop. Image from the shop’s Facebook page.

Meanwhile, to kick off October, the Ateneo Alumni Association’s Ateneo Art Auction this year will be held on October 1, 4 pm at the Finale Art Gallery, Pasong Tamo Ext., Makati City. The Auction raises scholarship funds scholarships for the Ateneo School of Humanities, while also promoting Filipino art and artists. Among the over 60 works to be auctioned are pieces by H. R. Ocampo, Ang Kiukok, Onib Olmedo, Julie Lluch, Lao Lianben, Danny Dalena, and others. ***

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1 Comment on pop goes the world: anti-what?!

  1. Chito Limson
    22 September 2011 at 4:13 pm (3218 days ago)

    Interesting photo of Cong. Castelo. I thought Tirso Cruz’s hairstyle had fallen out of favor…

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