On hooligan senators, shame, and Independence Day

I haven’t been reading the news for a long time. Together with my decision to give up television altogether four years ago, I came to a conclusion that life would be more bearable if I stopped keeping close track with the news, especially the politics. This, in turn, made me slightly ignorant about the whereabouts of my society, but I am one to believe that I could only comprehend certain aspects of societal concerns–and that of politics and show business only launch us stress. Though for enlightenment’s sake, I would still read certain news articles on the internet from time to time. Sometimes, I would peer into the daily paper my roommate reads every morning. I refuse to be apathetic. In any case, man is curious by nature and as such, I still keep track with the most important information I could take a hold of. So while I deal with my responsibilities and personal issues, I still make time to make myself involved significantly.

So what’s the point of this? Let’s just say that lately, I’ve been seeing news links on my Facebook feed about the privilege speech delivered by Senator Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr (I STILL CRINGE WHEN I HAVE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE PERSON AS MY SENATOR) about his alleged involvement in a very controversial plunder case, together with other people in the Senate (Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile), the famous Janet Lim-Napoles, and others. Revilla was said to pocket hundreds of millions from the Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF which is supposedly intended for small infrastructure programs and community projects. So apparently, a large portion of our taxes were pocketed not only by Napoles, but also by those hoodlum Senators mentioned.

You may check the speech over Youtube, but just a warning  for your sanity’s sake, allow me to give three words to describe it: lies, lies, lies. It is seemingly glaring to hear such hypocritical statements from him as he wore his barong tagalog. Not only did he deny the charges but he also assured the public that he’s willing to stay behind bars once they proved that he’s guilty. The nerve of this guy to deliver cheesy assertions about loving the country and public service.

It is a big question to me why this person (or these people) are still in position until now, why they didn’t even think of resigning from their offices. Public officials in certain countries in Asia and Europe would resign from their posts once involved in scandals. Lately, I found out that Miss Universe Thailand winner, Weluree “Fai” Ditsayabut, relinquished her title after certain groups and individuals barraged over her derogatory remarks on Thai militant activists.

Again, why do our crooked public officials stay in their positions?

My answer is that we have a poor concept of shame as compared to other cultures. And why is that? It is because we, as a nation, easily forget. We may not forgive immediately, but we forget–and public offenders recognize this. This is the reason why social shaming does not work in this country, because of the awareness that we tend to drop a current issue to make way for another one coming. We forgot the glory of People’s Champ Manny Pacquiao because he lost boxing matches with Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley after a very long streak of championships, we forgot the situation of Haiyan survivors because Ms. Philippines almost bagged the Miss Universe title, sex scandals were forgotten and we’re now happy to buy perfume by Hayden Kho. we lost sight of the Napoles-Pork barrell scandal because of the Vhong Navarro issue.

We are a people who hurl raging albeit valid comments on pressing issues–we spend time debating on the internet over substantial matters. But when the fire’s out, we’re also done with it. The topic is out of hand no matter how important. Game over. You lose. Here comes another challenger.

We think that when we move along as “resilient” people, we get by. We think that we stand tall amid bad news. But the truth is we are stuck. What’s worse is that we do not realize that none of us is aware.

I admit I am one of this kind. I am part of this community in the first place. So the next question is, can we be less forgetful people? Of course, we can. But not until we learn to discriminate news. We must compartmentalize instead of shirking matters off of our hands. Lastly, we must free ourselves from the bounds of sensationalism. This will not be easy to begin with because it will take much of our energy for a change of mindset. But only through this that we can be aware in the truest sense.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to watch the video Revilla made that features his accomplishments as, as he calls it, an honest and helpful public official. Gross. I nearly forgot he’s also a film star of inferior, questionable caliber.

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