For campaign season, one has gotten used to celebrities going on stage with politicos, to singers and musicians becoming “the voice” of commissioned songs for political parties, to pomp and pageantry becoming part and parcel of political discourse.
After all, it takes so much more than campaign speeches and intelligent discourse to get votes in this country – sad as that might sound. It doesn’t help that rarely do our candidates say yes to real debates ala America – Donald Trump included.
Then again, there were the Playgirls, dancing and twerking and lapdancing at the birthday celebration for one Liberal Party congressman in Laguna.
Sadly for the Liberal Party and its leadership – who were not at the party, and had no idea what was going on for sure – this was an all-time low.
One says that with a very clear sense, of course, of how sexy dancers have been part of campaigns before, and how women dancing – sexy and otherwise – have been part and parcel of the variety show format that these campaign sorties need to resort to in order to keep an audience.
But these girls who were performing at Laguna Rep. Benji Agarao’s birthday party and 40-years-of-service celebration – as the tarpaulin on stage says – were not merely there for variety show purposes.
Their name already says a lot. The Playgirls obviously sell sex via dance performances. We don’t really get a sense of what they say into those microphones, and I cannot for the life of me watch the videos. Sometimes pictures are enough.
The pictures in fact reveal that as far as clothing is concerned, these girls had more coverage than many a sexy-dancer we see on TV for what are “more artful” performances. In lieu of bikinis, they were actually wearing tankinis and sports bras and boy shorts.
It’s really what the girls were doing as captured by cameras that is objectionable, that is an all-time low. Because this performance crossed the line from dancing to erotica. It’s lap dancing with yellow-clad audience members as participants – even lying on the floor to get some “erotic dance action.”
The men of the Liberal Party
And no, this is not about The Playgirls, whose agency and subjectivity as women we must not presume we understand. One knows that for many girls like them this is merely the work that they do – probably sexier than the average dancer – but fully-clothed and not at all prostitution. That debate is a long one to be had, of course, and is not the point here.
The point is that there were these men who did not think twice about getting on that stage to … well, play with the girls. The point is that Liberal Party Senatorial Candidate and current MMDA Chairperson Francis Tolentino had purportedly “hired” these girls to dance at the party – a gift for the Liberal Party congressman celebrating his birthday.
The point is that Rep. Agarao himself has said that he did not think there was anything wrong with having the girls over on his birthday, up on that stage, doing this erotic dance with his party “guests.”
The men is what’s wrong with this whole picture. The people behind this event is what’s wrong with this picture.
Because certainly someone could have stopped this show from happening? Someone could have told the audience members clad in Liberal Party yellow to NOT get onstage and join in the merriment? Someone could have told the girls: okay that’s too much, there are kids in the audience?
Certainly there had to be some event organizer who could have been the voice of sanity and reason, who could see that there was something very very wrong about having these girls do this particular show, with the Liberal Party colors and the images emblazoned across the venue?
With the Liberal Party standard bearer having just left the oathtaking that took place on that same stage just some minutes before?
Heads should roll
I don’t know that it has helped that one of the ways in which we’ve heard this spun is that it’s black propaganda against the Liberal Party. Because: how? How can this be the fault of anyone else but the organizers of that party, but the Liberal Party members who were there and who watched the show?
It doesn’t help either that what we’ve heard so far, both from the statement from The Women of the Liberal Party (which includes only three women signatories, pray tell why?), and the statement of standard bearer Mar Roxas, is that there will be an investigation on the matter.
You don’t need an investigation. You need quick and radical action. In cases such as this one, it is clear who is at fault and what went wrong: an event organizer messed up, and Liberal Party members were complicit, whether they got on that stage, or merely watched the show happen.
If I were working for the Liberal Party, I would advice that these members be fired, right now, no ifs and buts. So close to the elections, and with the public’s eye on every candidate, and with a standard bearer who already has so much to prove and even more to disprove about what he has done so far, this is just unacceptable.
And to say that you believe the public would know to rise above this and engage in more intelligent discourse? That’s just missing the point. Men acting like men, and thinking that playing with The Playgirls is no problem is a discussion we should have. And the Liberal Party leaders should be the first ones to pronounce this display of machismo unforgivable, and ceremoniously kick out Agarao, Tolentino and every other Liberal Party member who stood by and let that show happen.
Then let’s have public debates and level up the discourse.