WHILE being wheeled to the emergency room of a hospital after a near-fatal ambush in 1982, former Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez asked then Quezon City police director Tomas Karingal: “What is happening to our country, General?”
At that time, Pelaez, one of the country’s prominent political personalities having served also as congressman and senator, was actively opposing the coconut levy that benefited Marcos cronies. It was one of the reasons suspected behind the ambush.
Last Saturday in a completely different setting, my friend Luie Guia popped the same question, but not addressed to a general or to anybody. Luie happens to be a commissioner at the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
No, he was not referring to the number of nuisance candidates who filed their certificates of candidacy two weeks before. Nor was it about the volume of work the poll body has to deal with in preparation for the conduct of orderly elections in 2016.
Luie was referring to the AlDub phenomenon. He verbalized on his Facebook status what many others have in their mind as noontime show Eat Bulaga was staging what it called “Ang Tamang Panahon” weekend at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Luie’s status on FB: “What is it with this AlDub…I cannot understand…Bakit may mga umiyak pa…Everyone seems to have gone crazy…What is happening to my country?”
I did not watch the show. I’ve seen two previous episodes though. But when I opened my Facebook at past noon, status with the AlDub hash tags dominated the threads. Unbelievable! I was told that Twitter was more amazing… more than 25 million tweets in one day?
Later in the day, I saw some photos that friends uploaded on their accounts, showing such a huge crowd at the 55,000-seater arena, touted as the world’s largest indoor arena, watching the special show of Eat Bulaga, the longest-running noontime show.
Video clips indeed showed people crying, shrieking, laughing as the love team of good-looking Alden Richards and pretty Maine Mendoza looked at one another, hugged, sang and held hands. Wow!
I became more curious and Googled their names. I found out that Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza are screen names. In real life, Alden was born Richard Reyes Faulkerson, Jr. 23 years ago. He was described as a Filipino television actor, host, model and recording artist.
Really? A recording artist? He must be too nervous when he sang “God Gave Me You” to Maine, or overwhelmed with the huge crowd before them. His singing did not give me an impression that he is a recording artist. But then, I remembered that Anne Curtis also has recorded an album and had filled Araneta Center for a concert.
Maine was born Nicomaine Dei Capili Mendoza, who plays Yaya Dub after she became an internet celebrity for yet another craze called dub smash.
Apart from the loveteam, viewers were also amused at the antics of Lola Nidora, Tidora, and Tinidora, the characters being played by comedians Wally Bayola, Jose Manalo, and Paolo Ballesteros.
Reports said tickets to the Saturday show was sold out in two days. Tickets were sold at P1,200 and lower. Eat Bulaga reported a gross of P14 million for the show which will all be donated to select libraries across the country.
It is really puzzling and mind-boggling how the show can get such a huge following and change the Filipinos’ viewing habits. Some say it was a good escape from the problems we face every day. Others say it offers plain good fun. My niece in Australia takes time off her studies to watch recorded episodes of the show on YouTube, or snippets of footages uploaded by a nephew. Seeing the show is a stress-buster for her.
Perhaps when Luie was watching the show, he must have been thinking how Filipinos can be drawn to such a craze. He was probably wishing that the Comelec’s biometrics campaign would receive a similar reaction from the public.
Indeed, 33 years after the failed ambush and 12 years after his death, the question of Pelaez reverberates and continues to be relevant, not only with regards to the AlDub phenomenon, but in so many other ways.
When you get stuck in heavy traffic in Metro Manila, or when you have 130 people wanting to become the country’s president, don’t you ask yourself, “What is happening to our country?”
When you lose your patience because of worsening telecommunications services even if you pay your bills on time regularly, don’t you ask, “What is happening to our country?”
Where are our taxes going? I hardly feel the benefits of giving up at least a third of my monthly earnings when I go to a government office to, say, get a tax clearance certificate. For such simple services for which you have to pay separate service fees, you have to be prepared to waste time queuing or arguing with incompetent civil servants. Lucky if you know somebody who can make things easier for you by cutting through the line.
Imagine having to go to a government office three times in two weeks for a paper that can be processed in an hour?
For several days in the last two weeks, I have been asking myself if the PLDT DSL internet access is on rationing. I pay a premium subscription and I have not been late in paying my bill because it is automatically credited to my card when it falls due. I get strong signal, but no access. Even my LTE subscription for my mobile phone with Smart is showing either GPRS or E (empty) signal most of the time. It does not work either when the Wi-Fi is not working. Why? I don’t get any answer because the telecom company’s lines for complaints are eternally busy.
Dealing with service inefficiencies and incompetence daily from both government and private business supposedly under government regulation make me wonder how and where the figures showing improved economic performance can be felt. What really is happening to our country?