Random Pinoy Snapshots as Shaped by the News Cycle

Apologies for the size, the "shot" that shook the world.

[ Warning : Please excuse the sporadic sarcasm, clumsy irony, annoying non sequiturs, disjointed premises, squeaky illogic and other pearls of wisdom here and there; these are not reflective of the serious purpose of the total effort. Well, maybe half the time only. Thanks for reading ! ]

Dear kabatch, schoolmates, brods, officemates, kabayan and friends :

AFTER the feel-good, fuzzy and senti lovefests, resolutions of self-improvement and parties galore ; the overflow of thanksgiving, gratitude and sharing that only the holidays make possible, it’s back to the sniping, griping, nitpicking and fussing that human nature is all about, distractions beloved by many, Your Loyal Kabayan definitely being no exception.

No doubt, I’m grateful for finding my place in the sun, for the love I’ve found, the kids who’ve made me look like a parenting genius (when in fact they’ve done admirably well without me), and the rellys who’ve always been there for me, but in the oddest places I’ve always found occasion to spot the difference, finger the weak link, and point out what’s wrong with the picture, PC (political correctness), CW (conventional wisdom) and race sensitivity be damned.

Among many pet peeves, I take issue with the way isolated, one-off (one-shot deal in Taglish) and quirky news items involving Pinoys get played up in the 24 hour international news cycle. In my humble view, this happens for a pair of reasons : (1) media supernovas like Manny P and Charice keep Pinoys visible on the media radar, and the trickle-down effect stokes the public’s hunger for similar news, (2) news editors in both print and electronic media are constantly on the lookout for sensationalist, crimes of passion, wacky and unique news events, and if these happen to involve exotic Asians either living in the First World or traditionally First-World environs, so much the better.

The first source of my histrionics is the iconic killer caught on camera picture that made it to the international newspage/s of many dailies all over the world — that of the assassinated councillor (alderman) unwittingly capturing the image of his slayer just moments before his death.

For newsworthiness (come on, a photo of a killer taken by his victim just before the act? A more compelling CSI-like storyline couldn’t be conceived), sheer audacity (well the killer probably didn’t intend to be literally in the spotlight, twas probably the doomed councillor’s instinct, but would you take a pic of someone about to shoot you?), “social commentary” value (what does it say about a society that can’t even leave in peace a man to take pics of his own family on New Year‘s Eve?) . . .

rarity (a shot like this comes along about as often as the planets aligning, but a cameraman actually shot Tiger Woods in a very similar situation, albeit a golf ball, instead of a bullet was the wayward missile), and last but not the least, shock value (have you ever seen pointblank, staring at the camera, the face of someone about to kill you without hesitation?), has the young year seen anything like this so far and so soon?

I think I’ve made my point, but the equally nagging issue now is : how in the world do you ever deny in the face of a picture like this, that our country isn’t filled with hired killer whackos who occasionally get caught in family pictures during New Year’s Eve festivities?

** ** **

Second news item thankfully has no picture, but is no less, in fact is more disturbing : a fetus found in an Abu Dhabi – Manila flight with the implications quite obvious : (1) that the author of the act spent some time in the UAE before going home to the Islands of Smiles and (2) such unwanted child was the product of something that happened THERE (UAE) and had to be hidden from someone/s HERE (the Philippines., our symbolic location).

But no matter. It’s not like you need hints and metaphors to fully discern the latitude and longitude of a news item such as this. Is the baby Arab, Filipino or none of the above? Which country has jurisdiction over the matter? If a crime was committed, and the guilty is/are caught, where will sentence be served?

While the brightest legal minds ponder over these questions, how does this affect how the rest of the world views the most probable doer of the deed, and I’ll give you a clue : three letters, starts with “O” and ends with “W”.

Now Pinoys and Pinays are as a general rule royally screwed ( no pun intended ) as indentured servants in many parts of the Middle East; we know it’s part of the deal. But we sometimes get shafted twice over, i.e., our masters use both our skills AND our bodies, plus there’s the peripheral issue of having to deal with the consequences, such as unwanted pregnancies, adultery prosecutions and even sexually transmitted diseases.

But try explaining that to the casual reader of Dead Fetus Found in MLA Bound UAE Plane and we begin to realize just how difficult it is to explain ourselves to almost everybody abroad (except perhaps Mainland Chinese, North Koreans, Burmese and Iranians, who’re probably crazier than us, no offense intended to everybody). That we’re normal people who just want to earn our bread, breathe fresh air and live in God’s world.

The saddest part is that, this plot has taken place before, and most likely will happen again and again.

** ** **

There are many other random snapshots of Pinoys / Pinays that find their way into the news of the world : seamen swallowed by the sea, domestics throttled, raped or hurled over the azotea by their foreign masters, nurses, nannies and caregivers overworked or underpaid by their employers, or construction workers tied to one-sided contracts but unable to leave the eternal desert till their passports are released from the company safe.

Unfortunately, the 24 hour news cycle has time only for the earthshaking, the dramatic, the magnificent, the unique, and the eye-catching. And interest in news items in the previous paragraph die a natural death, even before the afternoon edition.

The unvarnished and unfettered truth is that the Pinoy dream of prosperity and peace, despite our valiant efforts, remains an elusive goal.

Thanks for reading !







One thought on “Random Pinoy Snapshots as Shaped by the News Cycle

  1. Pingback: Why Airports Are Not Your Happy Place If You’re Asian : TVOne’s Border Security « YLBnoel's Blog

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