Ramon Bautista was being his playful comedic self when he told the crowd at Davao’s Kadayawan celebration: “Tama! Ang daming hipon ditto sa Davao, awraaaayt!”
On the youtube videos, it ain’t clear what the context of that hirit was. What is clear is that he didn’t start the chanting right after that statement: someone else with a mic started it and the crowd joined in. At some point, of course, Bautista does tell the crowd to say “Pon!” to his “Hi!” and the crowd participated in that, too.
Which is what bothers me about this whole hipon brouhaha. That audience laughed loud enough and cheered Bautista on. At what point did they realize this was offensive?
Apparently, when members of Da Duterte Dynasty (DDD) said so.
What is a ‘hipon’?
A gay friend schooled me about the etymology of “hipon,” when she said: “Hay nako, ang daming lalaking hipon, ano?!”
When I asked what that was, she said, incredulous: “Hindi mo ‘yon alaaaam? Kain katawan, tapon ulo!”
I could’ve died laughing. Of course I’ve heard it since used on women too, and have laughed every time I’ve heard it used by friends or anyone on social media.
What is different about this instance of “hipon hirit,” of course, is that Bautista used it at such a public celebration, up on that stage, with a mic in his hand. Never mind that the crowd did cheer him on, and did laugh at the joke.
At the heart of the city officials’ anger is the idea that to have said there are plenty of “hipon” in Davao is offensive to its women.
That is to paint it far bigger than it actually is. “Hipon” cuts across all genders. Bautista could have meant the men of Davao, too, if not every other gender and sexuality there is. That doesn’t mean Davao’s City Officials would’ve been any less angry, but it would’ve allowed for their offense to be better . . . “Hipon” is not about women alone. Men can be “hipon,” too. “ By Katrina Stuart Santiago “ ‘Yan ang equality.”
From ‘hipon’ to ‘sugpo’
The Dutertes of Davao City did not only kick off with a wrong understanding of the term, they also made this hirit far bigger than it actually is.
They decided to use the wrong premise of gender-specificity as basis for declaring Bautista persona-non-grata in the city, saying that “Hipon is a (sic) street slang for a woman with an ugly face and a sexy body and usually used to refer to women who are ugly and/or stupid and you only want to be intimate with them because they have sexy bodies.”
The City’s Resolution also adds another indiscretion committed by Bautista, when he posted a photo on Instagram with three girls partying at Kadayawan, and captioned it: “‘Ito ang kabataan ngayon hihi’ #Kadayawan #PasisikatinKitaHijaFoundation @ayosdito_ph.” That last one is the Instagram account of the Kadayawan event sponsor that brought Bautista to Davao City.
Davao City Officials judged his photo caption: “his insinuations that the young women in the picture are lusting for popularity because he is an indorser (sic) of ayosdito.com (sic) and Smart shows utter arrogance.”
Using the Women Development Code of Davao City, the City Council declared Bautista persona-non-grata, as both the “hipon hirit” and the photo caption fell under “other forms of sexual harassment” in that code. The City Council also says that: “there is a need to make Mr. Bautista understand that as a visitor of a place he should be mindful of decency and propriety.” It then hits Bautista’s fan base and professional commitments and says “there is a need to let the world know and those that employ Mr. Bautista, that he is an extremely corrupt influence to the youth and his abusive behavior should not be tolerated.”
Yes, it’s all very OA. And yes, the City Council of Davao City has the right to do it against anyone at all that they deem unworthy of their city.
Does Bautista deserve it? Of course not. Does he have a say in it? Apparently not. Does the Davaoeño audience that actually laughed at that joke and chanted with Bautista have a say in it? Not with the Dutertes.
Right after he was told by city officials that what he said was offensive, Bautista did what he was asked to do. He apologized. But the Dutertes were unhappy with that first apology. Bautista went back on stage and apologized again, this time with the city’s Mayor standing in the shadows of stage right, his arms crossed, like he was guarding a criminal doing a confession.
That was not just OA; it was uncalled for. It’s also no way to treat guests to your city. Had I been Bautista I would’ve been scared shitless. That the city’s powers-that-be, Mayor Duterte and former Mayor Duterte-Carpio, were breathing down my neck would’ve told me I was being picked on and harassed, my right to my creativity curtailed.
The thing is, Bautista was there precisely because of this persona that he has created for himself, that one that pokes fun at people’s looks, and his own looks in the process. This is a persona that lives off funny 140-character hirits on Twitter, hilarious posts on Instagram, and self-deprecating jokes about love and (his) good looks everywhere else.
Those Davaoeñas who posed with Bautista, that audience that laughed with him, know of this online / public persona. They laugh because they know the intertext of those hashtags and his hirits. They do not take offense.
Bautista was there because of this kind of humor, because of his many-a-hipon-hirit. He is invited to speak in events like this one to do his thing because there is an audience for it, an audience that is familiar with his humor, one that is mature enough to handle it.
That Davao audience, those Davaoeños who posed for pictures with Bautista, are exactly that.
One wonders when the Davao City Council will catch up with its populace.