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Home Op-Ed Columns Opinion on Page One This is a sick society

This is a sick society

RAMON T. TULFO

THE feud among the Barretto sisters, which culminated in a hair-pulling, punching and name-calling scene in front of no less than President Digong at their father’s wake — is being feasted on by the media and the gossipy public.

This is indeed a sick society.


I remember when I was a young reporter in 1971, Filipinos enjoyed reading about then first lady, Imelda Marcos, suffering an abortion because of stress.

The media at the time lapped up the story of the abortion, prompting President Ferdinand Marcos to say, “This is a sick society.”

When people relish in the misery or dysfunction of others, it’s because they themselves lead miserable and dysfunctional lives.

In other words, majority of Filipinos are dysfunctional because they enjoy hearing or reading about the lurid details of the scandals of low-life siblings.

I was flabbergasted when even my high-society friends asked me to give them a blow-by-blow account of what happened at the Barretto patriarch’s wake.

I told them I couldn’t oblige since I wasn’t there; besides, I said, I am not a showbiz reporter.

Why does the Filipino laugh when his brethren writhe in pain? What is there in his psyche that makes him rejoice at the misfortune of another?

Years ago when I was a police reporter, a man was vacillating whether to jump from the top floor of a five-star hotel in Manila.

Many curious onlookers on the street below were shouting to the man, “Talon, talon” (Jump, jump)!

The man jumped to his death.

Those of us who were old enough during the coup attempts against the unlamented Corazon Aquino administration were witness to the spectacle of civilians dancing in glee while rebel troops and loyal soldiers were shooting one another on the streets.

Young Filipinos would laugh at other people’s physical deformities.

If young boys see a PWD (person with disability) walking with a limp because his feet are not of equal length, they would taunt him and say that he was insulting the engineers who constructed the road.

If a boy trips and falls to the ground, his playmates, instead of helping him rise to his feet, would comment on how many fish he had caught diving into the ground.

When I was a boy in Cagayan de Oro, I would climb a tree with my friends at the cemetery and relish watching families of the dead about to be buried flail their arms and fall on their knees, crying.

Needless to say, if I’m criticizing my fellow Filipinos’ penchant for laughing at other people’s misfortune. I’m doing so because I’m also one of them.

When a singer commits a mistake during a public performance, the Filipino audience laughs at him or her.

Compare the same audience to the audience at an Emmy Awards night many years back when a singer yodeled after reaching a high note. The audience all stood up and clapped their hands in sympathy.

Why do screaming faggots in show business enjoy celebrity status in the Philippines? It’s not because we like their performance but because we laugh at them.

In the US, when a handsome and famous TV newscaster admitted to being gay, the number of his fans dwindled.

Not so here. That same newscaster, if he were a Filipino, would have won more fans not because they liked him but because they wanted to deride him and talk about him.
Now let’s go back to those low-life Barretto sisters.

The public is lapping up the admission of one of the Barretto women that she was a former girlfriend of a Chinese-Filipino guy, who is the bone of contention of the sisters.

The public enjoys hearing that three of the Barretto women were “tinuhog” (impaled) by the same guy.

People are wagging their tongues about the husband of one of the Barretto women who has become a cuckold, a man whose wife is playing around with another man.

This husband, a scion of a rich and prominent family, apparently enjoys being called pendehong torotot (cuckold), or so it appears to the public.

And so the public talks about the husband’s virility. “Tumitigas pa ba (Can he still get it up)?” they ask.

The poor guy’s past is talked about in high society and, supposedly, “decent” circles.

Even when he was still a young man, his first wife ran away with an equestrian instructor. The second wife also ran away with another man.

The third wife, a former actress who flaunts her material acquisitions, is now the mistress of the Chinese-Filipino.

In public, when the husband and wife and the lover are seen together, the woman and the lover hold hands under the table while the husband talks to the lover.

And the public loves the spectacle.

Look, guys, I’m not enjoying what I’m telling you. I’m just relaying what I got from the gossip mill to point out how perverted our society is.

I tend to agree with an article about the Filipinos written by an American correspondent, James Fallows, in The Atlantic magazine.

Fallows titled his article about the Philippines and Filipinos “A Damaged Culture.”

Read Fallows’ article and shout in protest to high heavens.

But what Fallows wrote in that article is mostly true.

And, as they say, truth is stranger than fiction.

But when we accept the truth about what foreigners see in us, we are halfway cured.

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