Posts Tagged ‘sarah bonnin ocampo’

pop goes the world: a nation of palengkeras

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 20 January 2011, Thursday

A Nation of Palengkeras

We are a nation of gossips and scandal-mongers.

We have the chismis gene embedded in our DNA. Nothing pleases our collective temperament more than hearing the latest rumors about celebrities – the dirtier and nastier and more likely to result in a bad outcome, the better.

This tendency is also linked to our talangka mentality – crabs in a pot pulling each other down, afraid one will reach the top before they do.

One of the vernacular terms for a gossip is palengkera, referring to the strident tones of market vendors as they fight for customers’ attention. The term further connotes ill-breeding and vulgarity. I’d say real-life palengkeras are getting a raw deal here, though certainly gossip is denigration and is a pastime of the vulgar, bad-mannered, and ill-bred.

Perennial headline-hoggers are President Noynoy Aquino’s lovelife and hobbies. There are people who spend much time and effort gathering information on his romantic life. Is that any of our business? Why should we care who he’s dating?

Several ladies have been linked to him so far, and none of the dates seem to have blossomed into full-blown relationships – and why? Has anyone figured it’s because the President and his ladies aren’t getting any privacy, with the entire country peeping in on their private lives? How will our bachelor President ever find a wife, at that rate? Come on. Give the man a break. Yes, he is the elected president. But he is also a human being looking for love. Can’t we give him some space?

Not only that, his purchase of a third-hand Porsche sportscar has got critics in a tizzy over alleged ethical violations at the worst and insensitivity to the country’s teeming poor at the least. First, everyone agrees he has not broken any laws. It’s not even a new car. Did anyone raise the issue during the terms of former presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo, who by all accounts owned fleets of brand-new vehicles? There should be consistency; we shouldn’t pick and choose who to pick on.

The problem is not only that gossip is a favorite pastime but that societal standards of manners in general have declined. Gossip is just one aspect of this. We are treating each other like crap. Whatever happened to “good manners and right conduct”, the credo many of us of a certain age grew up with? Delicadeza? Common sense and logical thinking, for that matter?

Take the case of Alliance of Volunteer Educators partylist representative Eulogio Magsaysay. I wrote in my column last week about his churlish and ill-mannered hurling of invectives – “Menopausal bitch!” – at Philippine Airlines ground attendant Sara Bonnin Ocampo.

Calling someone a bitch in public just because you didn’t get your way? That is bastos. Spoiled. That is not the way an elected lawmaker should behave. If he does, he no longer deserves respect.

Ocampo has since filed a complaint against him with the House of Representatives committee on ethics. Rep. Magsaysay has apologized, but to the media, not to Ocampo – he claimed he does not know where to reach her.

The plot took a disgusting twist when PAL recently wrote a letter to Rep. Magsaysay’s wife, distancing themselves from Ocampo, who is now on leave from PAL, apologizing for Ocampo’s handling of the situation. When the contents of the letter leaked to the media, PAL later backtracked, calling it a letter of “regret” rather than an apology.

PAL is clearly showing its anti-worker stance, allowing its employees to be verbally abused, and siding with the ill-mannered customer. Rep.Magsaysay could have kept his cool and come out of the fracas on top. Instead, he lost it; his wife even said she would have Ocampo fired. The verbal abuse and ill-temper was compounded with threats and intimidation.

And PAL kowtowed to him and his wife. Why, just because he is a congressman? Such is the arrogance of entitlement. Rep. Magsaysay and PAL’s management must think we are still living in the feudal ages. Oh, wait, apparently, in the Philippines we are.

What a contrast to the way Southwest Airlines defended one of its pilots that delayed a plane’s departure for one man. The story hit the Internet a few days ago. A man’s three-year old grandson had been assaulted by his daughter’s live-in boyfriend. The child was to be taken off life support, and Grandpa was racing to see his apo in Nevada one more time before the plug was pulled.

Reaching the Tucson airport in plenty of time, the man was delayed by security procedures. He swept up his shoes and bag and ran to the terminal in sock-feet, almost in tears, certain the flight had left without him.

Instead, he found the gate agent and the pilot waiting for him. “We held the plane for you and we’re so sorry about the loss of your grandson,” the pilot reportedly said. “They can’t go anywhere without me and I wasn’t going anywhere without you. Now relax. We’ll get you there. And again, I’m so sorry.” The 12-minute delay was an eternity in airport operations; Southwest can turn around a plane in 20 minutes.

And Southwest Airlines’ response to their pilot’s compassionate act? “We are proud of him.” What a contrast to PAL’s lack of support for Ocampo, their employee.

Gossip and bad manners? We’re just scratching the surface here. How badly are we treating each other? The increase in heinous crimes are indicators that things are going very wrong. The recent spate of kidnappings, rapes, and murders point to an escalation of evil. Emerson Lozano and Venson Evangelista’s cars were recently stolen in separate incidents; they were tortured, murdered, and their bodies set on fire. The corpses are charred beyond recognition; the families of both men had closed-casket wakes as a consequence.

What about the case of the young woman who was found the other day not only brutally raped but also beheaded? What is this, America? Mexico? In those countries, heinous crimes such as these are almost common-place. But this is the Philippines. Why has peace and order deteriorated so much?

There are other pressing concerns that deserve our attention. Take the poverty issue. One-third of the nation’s over 90 million population lives below the poverty line. Apart from stop-gap measures such as the conditional cash out program and other similar “hand-out” programs of the government, why not address the roots of the problem, starting with economic issues, food security, jobs generation, a favorable investor climate, and so on?

Instead of focusing on what’s important – the economy, peace and order, social justice – why are we sticking our noses into the President’s private life and calling each other bitches?

Because we’re a nation of palengkeras, that’s why.   ***

Pnoy Porsche image here. Screenshots of Magsaysay and Ocampo from here.

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pop goes the world: re-solutions

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 6 January 2011, Thursday


Happy new year! It’s time again to rewrite that list of resolutions that we keep making – and, more often than not, breaking – every year.

The word resolution is defined as being a “course of action determined or decided upon.” In actuality these take the forms of promises-to-self that range from the personal to the professional in connection with life choices – turning over a new leaf, kicking a bad habit, learning something new.

The online Washington Times posted last December 31 their list of ten popular new year’s resolutions: stop smoking, drink less, get more exercise, go on a diet, find a soulmate, spend more time with family and friends, get more organized, find a job, travel more, help others (charity work), relocate, manage stress better, get out of debt, text less, and watch less television.

These resolutions are generic in nature and generally applicable across all cultures; in that respect they are nothing new. We can break down the word into two parts –“re” and “solution” meaning a solution that has been considered before, but not implemented, so it is being considered again. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, only broken when we actually do whatever we’ve resolved. After that, if it’s a habit or a fresh new way of doing things, we need to sustain the new behavior, something that should be easier once we’ve reaped the benefits.

Let’s say we’ve made our personal resolutions. Onwards now to the fun part – making resolutions for government officials. Let’s hope those concerned take heed:

To cultivate common sense – Remember presidential speechwriter assistant secretary Mai Mislang’s twerpy tweets – “The wine (in Vietnam) sucks”? Her ill-considered use of social media site Twitter resulted in a firestorm of controversy and Malacañang Palace’s temporary suspension of the use of social media, and ended with her being reassigned to another department, which sucks – for her.

To cease plagiarizing and learn to write their own stuff – *cough Supreme Court justices cough*

To have more backbone in standing up for the right – I was very disappointed that the Philippines pandered to China by refusing to send a delegation to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honoring imprisoned Chinese human-rights activist Lu Xiabo. Boo, whoever made that cowardly decision.

To obey the law – Quezon City mayor Herbert Bautista’s recent promotion of a strict city traffic enforcer, Sol Botilla, who pulled the mayor over for beating a red light on New Year’s Eve, is impressive for its recognition of a dutiful man. Mayor Bautista honored the law, unlike Ilocos Sur congressman Ronald Singson, who will plead guilty to drug charges in Hong Kong. For shame.

To be considerate of others –Alliance of Volunteer Educators partylist congressman Eulogio Magsaysay reportedly upbraided Philippine Airlines ground attendant Sarah Bonnin Ocampo for not seating him and his sons together on their recent flight to Los Angeles. He allegedly told her to “shut up” and called her a “menopausal bitch”. This is deeply wrong on so many levels. And who doesn’t recall Commission on Human Rights commissioner and former broadcast personality Coco Quisumbing’s arrogant treatment of her fellow ka-industriya? ‘Wag tularan.

To stop plundering the kaban ng bayan – I’m looking at you, officials like disgraced general Carlos Garcia.

To not be such total idiots, please – What’s with the official acronym of the Traffic Transport Management Office of the Metro Manila Development Authority – TTMO? Seriously, no one from those agencies bothered to pronounce that acronym out loud? Here’s another colossal blunder – the Department of Tourism’s “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” campaign, obviously nicked from Poland’s. We were caught copying, like naughty schoolchildren. Nakakahiya. Are there any grown-ups running this country?

I’m sure you can add more to this list, but let’s not make this an outpouring of negative energy, rather a collection of constructive points that will help government in general be aware of their failings, rectify their blunders, and not commit these same mistakes again. (They can always make new ones.)

In addition to exercising more, starting a new diet, and spending more time with family (or whatever we have on our personal resolutions lists), let us add societal vigilance, because the public should care about holding government officials accountable and responsible.

But if you don’t get to keep that and the other resolutions you made, there’s always next year. And the next, and the one after that…  ***

Photos, in order of appearance: Exercise (taken by Jenny Ortuoste at the Santa Ana Park in Makati, 2008);  Lu Xiaobo (image here); Eulogio Magsaysay (image here); TTMO officer (image here).

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