TOO many debates ongoing about misogyny, racism, discrimination post-Pacquiao, post-Mary Jane’s postponed execution, and given Thai national Prasertsi Kosin, and American blogger Nathan Allen.
Not fiery debates mind you, at least not on my social media feeds, though that might also be me trying to separate grain from chaff, refusing to be roped into discussions that already tend towards one conclusion, and are really just pretend-democratic discussions.
Yes, Pinoy social media is an echo chamber too often, cradling the bandwagon no matter how wrong it might be. It might do us all well to exercise caution.
Choosing our battles
I read Prasertsi Kosin’s rant against Filipinos, that one he posted on Facebook, where he called us many things, including pigs and slum dwellers. Was I offended? Sure. Did I think it deserved more time than a refusal to share what he said? No.
There are people we do not argue with, because it’s pointless to do so. That’s especially true for a foreigner who works and lives in this country, but knows not to be grateful that he is here. The most one hopes for is that his employers in Manila would know to reprimand him – if not fire him – for behavior unbecoming of a foreigner. It should be true of any foreigner working elsewhere other than his own nation: there are some things you do not say on social media, opinions you keep to yourself, especially rants like this one.
But also there are rants from foreigners that we should be able to let go of. He was fired by the company he worked for, he has apologized, and has surrendered himself to the Bureau of Immigration (BI). Releasing that photograph of him handcuffed was just going too far to appease this group called “angry netizens.”
There is also this: how offensive is this rant really, if you contextualize it in the many foreigners who ply the red light district over on Makati Avenue, if not those who “party” at Greenbelt 3’s open area at night?
Just because there are no social media rants about that doesn’t mean those foreigners are treating us any better.
Separating the grain from the chaff is about realizing that someone like Nathan Allen, travel blogger, is worth listening to. He was not ranting after all, and actually chose his words when he talked about the tourism officer – or lack of one – over in Donsol, Sorsogon. Allen had just arrived from Albay hoping to get some assistance with regards exploring the Donsol – something he had a right to expect as tourist, especially since Governor Salceda himself had welcomed him as guest in Albay. I imagine he arrived there unannounced too, which makes him an even more credible travel blogger in my book. Arriving as tourist and not as “special guest” allows Allen to actually capture tourist spots and tourism offices for what they are.
The bit about Donsol was actually only part of a longer status that Allen addressed to the Department of Tourism (DOT). His concerns were all valid, and one wonders if he realizes that local writers who travel independently actually get treated worse than he was – especially if they are not paid or invited on press or blogger junkets.
The only place I’ve traveled to in this country that provided fantastic assistance was Ilocos Norte. I arrived there unannounced, sent an email the day I arrived to ask about places the Provincial Government might recommend to tourists. The following day someone from the Provincial Government called to ask what I was interested in doing, and they stayed with us for most of our stay and was just a text away for questions. Nearby Batangas is one of those provinces I’ve emailed countless times, across all available email addresses on its website, to give me a better sense of how to go about a Taal Batangas Heritage Tour on my own. And nothing. Not one response. Ilocos Norte seems to be in a class all its own.
Sorsogon’s local government meanwhile is revealing its utter lack of class as it has since dealt with Allen’s criticism by declaring him persona non grata. This, after he had apologized upon realizing that the DOT in Bicol is in fact not in charge of the Tourism Office in Donsol. I am as confused as Allen that this is so.
Even more confusing: the Regional Director of DOT-Bicol Maria Ong-Ravanilla was the one who had asked Allen for an apology, which he then issued. But to Ms. Ong-Ravanilla’s son, the apology that his mother asked for was not enough. It was Sorsogon Board Member Franco Ravanilla who filed the resolution declaring Allen persona non grata. The younger Ravanilla explains that Allen’s blog already has 3,000 likes and that to him means potential tourists might decide not to go to Donsol anymore (CNNPhilippines.com, 8 May).
But it might do the young politico well to see that in fact the way to respond to 3,000 likes on any Facebook post is to rise to the occasion of tourists like Allen, promise that it will not happen again, and that the tourism officer will henceforth be available to assist any tourist, local and foreigner alike. It is foolish to imagine that the 3,000 likes will translate to less tourists in Donsol, especially since Allen himself talked about how great his experience there was, despite the case of the missing tourism officer.
The thing with words is that, well, we should read them.
That these foreigners are being censured for their words at this time is nothing short of serendipitous. Because there is enough to get offended about, given our local celebrities watching the Pacquiao fight. There was some good ol’ misogyny that came from Raymond Guttierez and Liza Soberano, tweeting about how Floyd Mayweather “obviously has a vagina” (Guttierez) and was “fighting like a girl” and was “Gay asf #hugggggin” (Soberano). Those tweets have since been deleted, but is reason to wonder who it is we’re not taking to task, especially given Soberano and her young fans.
And then there is Angel Locsin, refusing to take down this tweet: “Lugi naman kasi tayo eh.. hindi natin makita kung may black eye na si mayweather…” (May 3), and defiantly responding to those who dared take her to task for racism. She instead asks: “Kung fair ang skin at sinabihan ko ng “lugi tayo at hindi makita ang an-an nya sa sobrang puti”, racist comment rin? Baka kayo ang may issue.” (May 4).
Oo nga naman.