Posts Tagged ‘meme’

the manny pacquiao doll

[Published as a "Pop Goes the World" column in Manila Standard-Today on 17 February 2011]

“A doll,” says Wikipedia, “is a model of a human being.” Going with that definition, this three-foot figure of world-famous boxer and Philippine congressman Manny Pacquiao is indeed a doll. Now how many Philippine celebrities have dolls made in their likeness – or international celebrities, for that matter?

Dolls have been around since the early days of human civilization, made of whatever material was at hand – bone, cloth, wood, stone, wax, ivory, porcelain, and an array of other materials. They are a “candidate for the earliest known toy, having been found in Egyptian tombs from 2000 BCE,” laid with great care beside the dead person’s body, signifying that the doll was a precious possession to them in life.

In the modern period, most of us are familiar with dolls as traditional toys for girls, such as the indomitable Barbie. Most dolls are female and can serve to socialize young girls in gender-based behaviors in terms of dress, hair, makeup, perhaps serving as “practice” tools. Male dolls made for female play are after-thoughts or accessories, like Barbie’s Ken.

Boys play with figures that are military-themed or that in general have links to traditionally masculine roles. (Can you say “GI Joe” or “Transformers”?) However, to distinguish between male and female toys, and to dissociate from the feminine connotation of the word “doll”, toys for boys are called “action figures”.

Nowadays, with doll-making technology advanced enough to copy the likeness of an actual person, dolls are being made that look like celebrities. What could this mean?

The root word of “doll” is the Greek eidolon, meaning “image, idol, apparation, phantom, ghost,” which could also be linked to the word “idol” – “an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed; or, any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion.”

Gods and goddesses are super versions of the human, with human characteristics blown up to exaggerated proportions – beauty (Venus), martial prowess (Mars), wisdom (Athena), and so on. As their physical representations, idols and religious images can be considered a kind of doll, being models of (super)human beings, with the aspirational and admired attributes greatly emphasized.

Celebrities are the modern-day idols, the focus of awe and worship of adoring fans. In fact the actual terminology and practice of fandom verges on the religious – favorite actors/performers are called “idols”; the word itself has crept into Filipino usage, the way we say “Idol ko si Derek Ramsay.” Their pictures are taped to bedroom walls while pocket-size photos, sold for ten or twenty pesos each,  are carried around in wallets, the way posters or calendars of “Mama Mary”, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, or the Holy Family used to be tacked to walls and stampitas with the gilded halos around the heads of saints were tucked into wallets and books.

Dolls of celebrities are a socially acceptable way of creating images of showbiz idols that one can bring home and gaze at adoringly, without fear of social sanction or other repercussion stemming from a bending or skirting-around of a norm.

What does it mean that a doll is made in the likeness of Manny Pacquiao?

The likeness, though a caricature, strove to be as faithful to the real thing as possible, even down to the tattoos.

The cult of Pacquiao has reached idolatrous proportions as exemplified by this tribute to his fame and prowess. Even while still alive, Pacquiao, a present-day gladiator, has already been deified, by this means accorded immortality of a sort. This plastic doll made in his image, down to the tattoos, may now be purchased by admirers who can adore him at their leisure and convenience, much like displaying a santo on the family mesa altar or attending Sunday Mass at their chosen time and church.

As a doll he can be worshipped in an intimate way not possible with a flat, two-dimensional photograph. One may imagine seeing Pacquiao in the round, from all angles, in this instance with the well-developed muscles and facial hair signifying strength, masculinity, and determination – the attributes of Hercules – and honored as such.

This particular doll is a caricature, a version of the real thing that exaggerates the idolized attributes. For idols, patterning after the real thing is not possible or even not desired, because the good characteristics are inflated while the bad are minimized or deliberately omitted. Just as the Venus of Willendorf and other mother goddess figurines from prehistory have no faces but disproportionately large breasts and vulvas signifying fertility, so the Pacquiao dolls need not be accurate and faithful to the original, as long the idea of Pacquiao-ness is conveyed.

A friend has one of these dolls, displayed in a prominent place in his home that he has outfitted like a shrine to his idol. The cult of Pacquiao is growing; remember that the word “cult” is embedded in the word “culture”, and Pacquiao and his greatness as being worthy of elevated levels of admiration have evolved into a meme replicated in Philippine culture.

In this cult, Pacquiao is the new god – he shall redeem Filipinos from international disgrace as a failed nation with his victories in prizefights, he shall deliver us from our idiocies and trespasses with his common sense, and he will save the country from itself through the sheer force of his good intentions.

Bonus shot: empty pizza boxes. As a collector’s item, the question arises – what for? Well, no one ever claimed idolatry is practical.

All definitions quoted from Wikipedia. Photos taken at Powerplant Mall, Rockwell Drive, Makati City, on 16 January 2011. Shot with a Nikon Coolpix L-21.

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Things that get stuck in your head: this here’s one. Click on the link. “Nuff said.

“Tell me, have you seen the marvelous breadfish? ….Swimming in the ocean waters? Have you seen that the marvelous breadfish, is like an inverse sandwich. And oh, for fishermen and shaaarks…”

The tune is catchy. It will loop in your head. PROMISE.

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tag ni sarah

I’ve been tagged! Hey, this is fun, I love making lists.

From writer/editor/heartbreakee Sarah Grutas, this meme:

Here’s the rule:

Click copy/paste, type in your answers and tag four people in your lists! Don’t forget to change my answers to the questions with that of yours.

1. Four places I go over and over

MARHO office
Fully Booked at Powerplant
National Bookstore

2. Four people who email me regularly
Fountain Pen Network Phils. penfriends
Annie Merginio-Murgatroyd
Gigi Tejada
Kites Cayetano

3. Four of my favorite places to eat
Zaifu at Powerplant
Pancake House
Le Souffle

4. Four places you’d rather be
On the beach
In a spa, having a massage
Any branch of Barnes and Noble or Borders

5. Four TV shows i could watch over and over

The Ghost Whisperer
Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone
CSI: Miami
Star Trek

6. Four lucky winners (of this tag)

Adelle Chua
Leigh Reyes

Image: banner illustration of Sarah’s blog.

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book meme. pass it on!

Total number of books owned:

Over a lifetime, perhaps two thousand. Many titles (romance, science fiction, fantasy) were given away through the years. Currently I am keeping about eight hundred books, stacked two-three deep in my inadequate bookshelves. I guess I have to give most of them away – to make room for more.

Wide bookcase on the left holds photo albums, paperbacks, etc. two-three deep. Tall bookcase on the right has my quilting magazines, MBA books, other hardbounds.


Pile of books on the left are behind the dining table, and are mostly F & SF; on the right, books on my bedside table. Not included in photos are other heaps of books. Many other heaps.

Last book bought:

The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown. I grew up on Princess Di, and wanted to get a backgrounder on her life.

Last book read:

Starbucked by Taylor Clark, all about that global coffee chain that you either love or hate.


Five books that mean a lot to you:

-1. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. “The canon”, and these were the books I told my husband I would choose when he asked which of them I would bring out of a burning house. That was way before reprints became readily available. Before the movies came out, it was out of print. My copies were printed in the ‘60s.

•2. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. I built my collection in the ‘80s by haunting used-books stalls in Morayta. Again, I kept aging copies, but can safely let go of them now as convenient all-in-one editions are available, again after the movie was released this year!

•3. The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. One of my favorites as a young child, my battered copy was passed on to me by my mother, also a voracious reader. When I was in college twenty years ago, I had it hard-bound. Now I hear they are adapting it into a movie, shooting to begin in Hungary this summer. I guess the book will be coming out again in bookstores, and I can misplace my old copy!


•4. Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. The only poem I have ever memorized is “Jabberwocky”…


•5. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Thankfully a complete collection came out in two volumes around twenty years ago; it’s still available in bookstores.

These are books I read as a child or teenager, maybe that’s why they are still so special, filled as they are with all the pleasant memories associated with them of curling up in a corner and escaping into other worlds.

Currently reading:

-1. Creative Suite 3 for Dummies and InDesign CS3 for Dummies

-2. They’re Racing! The Complete Story of Australian Racing by Les Carlyon


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meme: what were you doing ten years ago?

Saw this meme on (along with to-drool-for recipes for Southern biscuits and fried green tomatoes):

1) What were you doing ten years ago?
At around this time a decade ago (mid-June1998), I was in my last month of pregnancy with my youngest, Ik (born June 23), still living at the same house I do now

Alex (7) and Ik (6 months); Alex and Ik now

2) Five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today:

  • Edit and re-format the soft copy of Ortuoste Family Tree
  • Call up Luis (pen) Store in Escolta for their store hours (I need to have four fountain pens tweaked and repaired)
  • Go to Shopwise Supermarket along Pasong Tamo for groceries
  • Check on the Superlotto and Megalotto results; buy tickets for the next draws
  • Take Alex (my eldest) to Santa Ana racetrack this evening to go parkouring/freerunning

3) Snacks I enjoy
Since my blood chem test came back showing elevated levels of uric acid, cholesterol, and triglycerides, I can’t have my favorite chocolates, cakes, and chips anymore. Sigh. Lately I’ve been nomming mashed potatoes, popcorn, and pineapple.

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire
Aside from the usual, like buy a huge house with a pool and a fleet of cars that run on ethanol? I would:

  • take a PhD in Mass Communication doubled with an PhD in Anthropology at alma mater UP-Diliman (no other universities in the Philippines offer these programs);
  • travel to far-off, exotic places like Kathmandu, Timbuktu, and Boracay;
  • buy a closetful of Hermes, Goyard, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, and Tod’s canvas and leather goods;
  • set up a scholarship fund for deserving students in the fields of Mass Comm/Journalism, Anthropology, and the hard sciences;
  • with the help of our church, put up a free Bible giveaway program.


Entrance driveway to UP-Diliman; Victoria Beckham with a pink ostrich Hermes Birkin; temples of Kathmandu

5) Places I have lived
Philippines (Manila, Bacolod City, Quezon City, Makati City); USA (California: Fremont and Van Nuys)

6) Places I have visited

California (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fremont); New York (New York City, Oswego); North Carolina; Dubai, UAE; Hong Kong

6) Jobs I have had

Library assistant at UP-Diliman; Account executive (selling airtime for animes Voltes V and Daimos); Journalist/novelist/writer; Apprentice jockey; Public relations officer; Corporate communications officer; Magazine editor; Broadcast producer, director, writer; Live cable television sports (horseracing) commentator; Television show co-host, writer, segment director; Assistant racing manager of a horse racing club; Office manager; Government agency consultant; Romance novelist; Blogger


Morning workout at Santa Ana Park as an apprentice jockey aboard a colt of Alamat (1990); co-hosting “Karera 2000″ with basketball coach and now Pampanga Vice-Governor Joseller “Yeng” Guiao (1997); at San Lazaro Leisure Park hosting the live cable TV broadcast of Manila Jockey Club races (2007)

7) Peeps I want to know more about
“Gogirls” (strong, confident, empowered women); people in the news for either good or bad reasons; the people next door

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