Wednesday, November 23, 2005

ppgma is ppg wd an ma n roco is not a wannabe but a wallaby

Here's the story i told u abt gma. requested lang po. flip had to edit siyempre so this is much longer. this was written before GMA said that yes, she will run again.

On December 29, the Marcos bust in Tuba, Benguet was blasted and the top of Apo’s head flew as far as a kilometer away. On the morning of December 30, Rizal Day, my head felt like the Marcos bust after all those presidential and ex-presidential coverage and post Xmas parties. PPGMA (President of the Philippines Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in a similar manner Dubya is addressed formally as POTUS or President of the United States) was delivering her annual Rizal Day Speech here in Baguio and I was again asked to cover but I thought there would be nothing extraordinary.

But PPGMA invoked Rizal in her inaugural speech and considered him and not her father, former President Diosdado Macapagal (in Malacanangspeak, Papadom) so I upped the volume just in case. The speech, later known as the Rizal Day Speech, was unlike the previous speeches because she mentioned the political divisiveness and the bloodiness of the 2004 elections but I still didn’t know what’s coming.

So when she was about to sum it up: “In view of all these factors, I have decided ,” I continued it for her, “to follow Jesus.” But PPGMA instead said, “not to run for President during the election of 2004. If I were to run, it will require a major political effort on my part. But since I’m among….”

In my confusion, I flipped the channel instead of the volume and went to Cartoon Network where the Powerpuff Girls were on and ten minutes later, I was in Baguio’s Rizal Park feeling stupid, interviewing the still disbelieving politicians.

During the night, PPGMA invited the local media at the courtyard of Mansion House and there we were drinking red wine and eyeing Luli by the bonfire as she made tusok the jumbo hotdogs. By 10:30 pm, PPGMA decided to make a live appearance for Channel 7 news and everyone decided to be the live audience.

Problem was, Channel 7 in Manila had a hard time hooking up and PPGMA kept on looking at her watch and then she said, Ano ba? It’s way past my bedtime. Having been emboldened by red wine, I laughed loudly and just like that, everybody froze. Which is a good thing because now I can move on with the proper beginning of my story, ehem, essay:

The poet James Fenton noted in his Granta piece about the 1986 Snap Revolution that some Filipinos have a way of seeing beyond the shadows. While others only see a policeman, a Filipino toughened by years under the Marcos dictatorship would see Dead Presidents passing hands between the policeman and a jeepney driver.

Marcos babies like us also have that gift, honed by watching seemingly innocuous cartoons in TV during those dark times. Don’t say watching The Yogi Bear Show, Spider Man, Challenge of the Superfriends, Flintstones, Scooby’s All-Star Laff-A-Lympics, Wacky races, Shazam, Herculoids, Space Ghost, Fantastic Four, Tom and Jerry, Batman and the Bugs Bunny Show didn’t have an effect on us. Even now, we still watch these old classics at night at CN just to catch up on our lost childhood.

We, the Marcos babies, also had a way of seeing beyond the shadows. Call it rusticus aspectus or the gift of morphing our political leaders with cartoon characters. Case in point, Voltes V. Enough said.Second point: Our present president. PPGMA is the PPG with an MA. You may unfreeze now.

She is (let’s all sing) Blossoms, she is commander and leader; Bubbles, she is a joy and a laughter; Buttercup, and she’s the toughest fighter, Powerpuffs save the day.

It was Good Friday, 2002, when we were also called at the Mansion House courtyard because PPGMA presented Jeffrey Schilling, hostaged by the Abu Sayyaf for eight months. The President said then, “Seek and destroy the remnants of the Abu Sayyaf. Sa mga bandidong natitira, sumurender na kayo. Pupulbusin ko kayo!”

How funny that Spanish-thinking Filipinos would translate pulverize to powder. In my notebook, I drew Bubbles hitting the Abu Sayyaf. Sen. Tessie Oreta was wrong in saying (right after PPGMA and her cabinet posed for Tattler as the Men in Black) that PPGMA should also pose with DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman and Gloria Tan-Climaco as the Powerpuff Girls. Dinky guffawed and said she wanted to be Buttercup.

But PPGMA is the Three Faces of PPG. You would only know whom by the color of her dress. The Powerpuff Girls is the biggest selling cartoon created by the Cartoon Network not because of its clever storylines because of the fashion and color coordination. People in the know exploited this secret in dealing with GMA. Why then would former Justice Secretary get into the inner circle? By gifting her with a pink orchid he christened “Malvarosa Princesa Gloria” which appealed to the Blossom in her.

Last February 26 during the Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Kuala Lumpur, GMA stood tall from the other delegates by wearing an orange outfit designed by Fil-Japanese designer Ito Curata. “People at the hall, used to seeing the men in dark suits and the women in formal light-shaded business attires, could not but noticed and expressed awe over the lady wearing the orange suit,” the OPS noted.

In her interview with Time Magazine in June 2001, the time of the EDSA 3 and the Basilan hostages, she wore an iridescent blue silk gown to highlight Bubbles, the sensitive PPG who also, more importantly to that interview, acts as the mediator between the wise and egoistic Blossom and the aggressive Buttercup. Of course, there is the Gloria Labandera (soap bubbles?) to soften her Georgetown reputation and endear her with the blue-collar people and the blue ribbon committee. President Arroyo does not like wearing green but she loves posing and surrounding herself with the military men in their olive green uniforms and the US Green Beret.

And the PPGMA exhorting the pupulbusin ko kayo is Buttercup speaking. During the Fourth World Meeting of Families here last January, PPGMA said that through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Son became man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, wife of St. Joseph. "Thus you gave us the model of a God-loving and humane family. And now you bind a Christian woman and man in marriage to be the sign and channel of your love for the world, and of the love of Christ for his Church," she said.The OPS later noted that “those who attended almost covered the expansive football field and garden, making the crowd a sea of white, red, green, pink, orange and yellow, the colors of the several parties from different cities and municipalities.”

And the color of the whole Powerpuff posse.Many, especially among the women’s groups are stupefied on why President Arroyo, a former economics teacher at Ateneo, would not aggressively address the population problem when she knew in all her studies abroad that a high population growth negates whatever modest economic growth we have.

She instead toed the line of the Catholic Church, which is the aforementioned man-in–the-womb-of-the-Virgin method, otherwise known as the natural methods like withdrawal, putting the temperature before the thingy and the rhythm.Come to think of it, how were the Powerpuff Girls created? By mixing sugar, spice, everything nice and Chemical X. How virginal can you get?

By association, other characters in PPG’s Townsville resemble our past and present heroes. Captain Righteous, the original defender and hero of Townsville who sued to fight the Minster of Pain is now retired and living in a trailer.

There are the Broccoloids who sound like the defenders of GMO like Bt corn. Then there is the disco-loving Boogieman and his Midnight Cabinet who put Townsville in the dark just so he can party.

Al Lusion, the magician who came back from the dead, sounds like our good man from Batac. Major Glory is PPGMA’s classmate, Bill Clinton. Him, our favorite villain, has eyebrows that remind us of our favorite ex-senator. Then there’s Mojo Jojo, the monkey with a brain so big he needs a turban to accommodate. Can Joe Almonte and Jojo Acuin fit the bill?

Cuteness is the world where the PPG wallows in and President Arroyo incorporated that in her image. Frances Richard in the Autumn 2001 issue of Cabinet Magazine wrote about the “15 Theses on Cute.”

The fourth thesis is thus: “Cute marks a crucial absence. It guarantees, by definition, the nonappearance of malice, premeditation, irony, self-consciousness, accusation, or mercenary agenda. However, in its manufactured forms cute remains a major locus for—in some ways is synonymous with—the manipulative gesture, the prepackaged, consumable demonstration of (necessarily factitious) innocence, spontaneity, and need. Cute arises by manipulating the guarantee of non-manipulation. Professing its own demure and complete powerlessness, it gains power over and directs all interactions with it: parents wait upon the infant, not the other way around. Simultaneously referring to and negating its own vulnerability, cute functions as a self-fulfilling system, maintaining its image as 100% stolid and happy and obvious only by virtue of utter contingency.”

And the eleventh: “Morphologically—that is, æsthetically—cute relies on big eyes, round heads, fat bellies. The limbs of the cute are stubby or nonexistent, its mouth abstracted or disproportionately tiny, its nose button, its ears enormous, or alternatively, invisible. Cute tumbles, toddles, waddles, rolls; it is visibly dependent, apparently engineered by natural selection to stimulate a nurturing response. If this is true in evolutionary terms, it follows that the surpluscuteness manufactured by culture might denote the culture’s attempt to trick itself into kindness. One respondent defined it thus: “Cute makes you do things you wouldn’t do otherwise.”

Which is to root for PPGMA. She is far more manipulating that we think. Other political frontrunners are catching up on Cute 101.

I remembered interviewing former Education Secretary Raul Roco in 1995 about where he got the idea of wearing his screaming blue or pink Hawaiian shirts. As it turned out, every other journalist asked him that same question and his standard answer is this seller in Nepa Q or was it Farmer’s Cubao was so fond of Roco that he gifted him with about a dozen of this cheap tacky shirts. So he wore them out of gratitude and also to distinguish himself from the gray-flannel flock. We went back to our computers and wrote this charming story. Unfortunately, I also switched on the TV and saw this excitable wallaby in Nickelodeon. How can a politician easily fool me? There it was: Roco is Rocko.

“Rocko’s Modern Life” is about a wallaby (a small kangaroo) wearing the same loud shirt as Roco. In the opening segment, a big book was squeezed into his head (think: Dep Ed), given a Jack Russell terrier named Sparky and kicked from Bicol to the big town. He loves jackhammering (tatad, also from Bicol) and reading comics. He works as an attendant for a comics store and once worked as a product tester for Conglomo-O.

His best friends are Heffer, a steer raised by wolves, and a neurotic turtle named Filburt who sometimes looks like Conrado de Quiros, Roco’s favorite intellectual partner. Roco always looks at the bright side of life and even if the world gives him earthquakes, bad luck, bad supermarket attendants and an evil toad for a neighbor, Roco always come out alive and happy. Rocko is very cool but when he gets really, he shoots up like the Mayon. And if ever Roco makes it to primetime, he knows whom to thank.

And to make this essay really serious, we emulate historian Renato Constantino who at the end of his “Aquino Reader” came out with a pop quiz where you try to guess who said what: President Ferdinand Marcos or Corazon Aquino.

So who said these, PPG or PPGMA? 1) Ego? I ain’t got no stinkin’ ego.2) But since I’m among the principal figures in the divisive national events for the last two or three years, my political efforts can only result in never-ending divisiveness.3) Hey…I just realized something! We’ve just defeated every kind of criminal there is to fight! We’re the strongest people in the entire world! People just totally respect us! So why fight the crime world, when we can just take it over right under their noses?4) I believe this because I see around me the emergence of a new generation of dynamic and progressive leaders, whether in politics, in business, or in civil society. They are our agents of change.5) I’m not a good girl. I’m a bad girl, right?6) Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.7) In governance, there is too much politics hampering good, productive governance. The convergence of the national stresses such as these has led to the sense of gloom that many of our citizens now talk of. There is a feeling of too much negativism and conflict in our society.8) Hey girls, don’t you think that instead of just beating up the bad guys and throwing them in prison, we should be solving the socioeconomic problems at the root of their criminal behavior?9) Pour down on them the light of your truth, the fire of your love, and the strength of your power so that everything they do will be pleasing to you and beneficial to families.10) I want new clothes! This dress makes me look fat!11) Him, will you give me a makeover? This good girl image just doesn’t suit me anymore.12) Forget fighting. I’m going to a ballet.13) On the other hand, relieved of the burden of politics, I can devote the last year and half of my administration to the following.14) Hmmm…maybe I should donate to a brain transplant center. There are people who need my brains more than me15) Why am I always the crybaby? I demand a lawyer.16) I wonder if my planet-sized ego is why people are jealous of me? Nah.17) Join me therefore as we begin to tear the walls that divide. Let us build an edifice of peace, progress and economic stability.18) Goodbye everyone. There’s a war going on and I wanna be on the frontline.

1,3,11 and 16 from Blossom; 5,6,8,10 and 12 from Buttercup, 15 and 18 from Blossom, 2,4,7,9,13 and 17 from GMA (taken from her Rizal Day, inaugural and 4th World Meeting of Families speeches) and 14 from Mojo Jojo.


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