COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
We. We are afraid of Erap. We are afraid of ourselves. We are ashamed of seeing ourselves in him.
We were bothered with Erap being president of the republic for he has not finished college when more than half of our population has not gone to college. Have you heard of the old student activist’s chant that “out of 100 children who enter Grade One, 56 finish Grade Six; of these, 23 graduate from high school and only 14 eventually finish college.” The figures may have slightly increased but still at a negligible percentage, what with the rising cost of education.
Harping on his carabao English is another self-conscious indication on our part for we would like to present ourselves as English speaking brown Americans. We feel embarrassed, if not insulted over being led by someone who doesn’t have the proficiency in that foreign language.
But what percent of the population speaks and writes good English. One political aspirant attempted at British accent with an Ilongo tongue, and quite dismally. If you read across the various regional newspapers, not a few journalists write English, “binisaya.” The grammatical construction is of their own dialect; be it Cebuano, Waray, Ilonggo, Ilocano, among others.
If Erap is a drinker, Filipinos are generally addicted to alcohol, as the next item in their list of expenditures after food. Look at NEDA statistics. Some would even throw their wages first on liquor, and then allot the rest for food for the household. Whichever of the two comes first, food or liquor, as the need arises. For men drink when happy, when sad, over success, or failure, after winning, or losing, after work, or play, ad infinitum.
If Erap is a womanizer, the average Filipino male is a womanizer. In these recent times, womanizing has even become a status symbol, especially among the upwardly mobile group. An additional woman, the younger and the prettier one, signifies success.
Probably, Christianity and monotheism is not for the Filipinos for the Filipino worships several gods, all at the same time. In the same manner, the Filipino male worships more than one woman, all at the same time and makes no qualms about it. He takes a wife, takes a girlfriend, under the kabit system. This is also shown in his work. He takes a main job, gets a sideline, still under the kabit system. I don’t know but maybe it gives him a sense of security to acquire a spare, like reserving a spare tire. And all these, while remaining emotionally attached to his mother.
If Erap is a gambler, Filipinos are incorrigible gamblers. Look around. They operate on the surface and in the underground. We have a good variety in proliferation: jueteng, masiao, last two, lotto, sweepstakes, derby, and tupada, what have you, in addition to the perennial mah jong and card games. We bet on PBA games, boxing, over a game of tennis, and even on who would win in an election. We would just like to bet on anything. And among the low income groups, many would use their money for food in betting on masiao or jueteng for a quick buck, all the while believing on luck.
Maybe one thing Erap has acquired is empathy, and I attribute this to the years he spent in film. (But it may have taken its roots during his childhood days when he would associate with kids not of his family’s social and economic standing.) When you’re acting in theater or film, you internalize the role you’re going to portray aside from being exposed to the real situation as a form of immersion. In the process, you become the character thereby assimilating his beliefs, thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behavior. That’s why serious actors and artists for that matter become activists due to their heightened level of social awareness.
Maybe next to Marcos who knows the Filipino so well for having ruled for so long, Erap knows the Filipino by heart; for he is the quintessential Pinoy—scars, warts, and all.