THEY don’t join singing contests because they just want to express themselves in song and, sometimes, in dance if television time allows it.
Filipinos also don’t want to be boxers because they just want to beat the living daylights out of their hapless opponents.
Aspiring singer or boxer wannabe, the Filipino enters the stage or the ring because he only wants to lift his family from poverty, which is not a crime no matter the sceptics sneering at the rather unadulterated concession to an ordinary life.
To be fair, he is just being honest about his reason for signing up, which candor does not distract from the Filipino warrior—pug or crooner—backing up his story with real talent (think Rose Fostanes, a caregiver and 2013 X Factor Israel grand prize winner, or, farther back, legendary boxer Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, for many years from the mid-1960s the junior lightweight or lightweight world champion).
This year’s first-prize winner of the national singing contest Tawag ng Tanghalan—Noven Belleza—is a farmer and he proudly identifies himself as one.
Another boy of humble roots and ahead of Belleza in achieving glory for himself and the country—international boxing icon and senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao—will always serve as an inspiration to the materially deprived that they also can make it anywhere, New York (New York) included.
Fostanes and Elorde and Belleza and Pacquiao are proof that persistence, perseverance and patience, with a stroke of good luck thrown into the mix, could propel ordinary Filipinos to what they want to be if they set their mind to it.
But some Filipinos apparently do not have it in them to carry on with true grit given their circumstances, opting instead for the easy way out because they are “poor.”
Their situation likely stems from lack of education, without which they will find it difficult to land even lowly jobs, thanks to apparent government neglect of poor students.
Many of them, apparently, are using their “poverty” as an excuse for biting the bullet and engaging, perhaps, in drug dealing, which assures them a quick buck.
Their mahirap (poor) mentality, however, can work against their better judgment, even forcing them to risk it all and getting killed in the process on suspicion of, say, pushing or selling prohibited substances.
When things settle down and the government’s war on drugs is blamed for what critics of the Duterte administration call “extrajudicial killings,” the finger-pointing gains more traction if the alleged victims are “poor.”
The so-called collateral damage has led to these critics accusing the administration of being anti-poor and pro-rich.
The President himself has dismissed the accusation, insisting that being part of the drug-dealing circle can actually turn the mahirap into the mayaman (rich) overnight.
He could be saying that not all of the poor are saints and that not all of the rich are sinners, in the same vein that that not all policemen are wolves wearing wool.
Something has got to give or else we will just be oversimplifying the truth that the poor cannot be past committing the evil that (rich) men (and women) do.
This is exactly what Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo is doing in airing her country’s—and that of the Duterte administration that she will be part of at least until 2022—dirty linen before the 60th United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs annual meeting in Vienna through a nearly six-minute video message.
A highlight of the message, which will have been shown on Thursday, reportedly is palit-ulo or head-swapping.
Robredo claimed that under this apparent sleight-of-hand, police in “poor” communities take as hostage either the wife, husband or relative of a drug suspect whom they are actually looking for if they cannot find the suspect himself.
She offered no evidence of her allegation as to force the President to make some heads roll.
If the video message made the rounds of the United Nations beyond the Von Trapps’ native Austria, it would just be unbelievable for the world body to let itself be taken for a ride in Robredo’s “defense” of the “poor” Filipino.
The rich—and the Vice President is decidedly “not poor”—can actually capitalize on the “poor” to push their platforms.