Saturday, December 1, 2007

Only When We Laugh

MANILA, Philippines -- “The Pen? Such poor taste! The buffet is much better at the Shang!”

Trust Filipinos to get the text brigade going. Minutes after Antonio Trillanes IV and company walked out of a Makati court trial to sashay towards the Peninsula hotel, SMS started boogieing down the information highway.

Not black propaganda; the ones from the Armed Forces and the administration we’ve learned to recognize – they lack humor and sag with the weight of grammatical errors. Just ironic and, in some instances, sarcastic quips from the usual uzi’s (Filipino slang for kibitzers; it says a lot about a culture that, unfortunately, sees acts of violence as entertainment).

That the uzi’s – that’s all of us – opted to view the show this time from the safety of living rooms and offices, signalled early on that Trillanes and Danilo Lim were headed for failure.

There were none of the spontaneous agit-prop that swamped our mobile phones during EDSA II -- which itself was different from the original People Power uprising in that there was no gaggle of troops needing warm bodies as shields.

Instead, there were jokes, many on the verge of mocking and insulting: How the gum-chewing Trillanes couldn’t be taken seriously, how some reporters were skirting too close to the groupie line, and the Magdalo guy, behind Lim at the press conference, who sported televised history’s most spectacular display of a bad hair day.

Later, angry messages of condemnation also came through text. This was no viral campaign by the administration. The messages conveyed outrage at Lim and Trillanes for cavalierly claiming they were empowered by the “masses,” the “people” and, the voters.

Was it lawyer JV Bautista who tried to underplay the crime committed by calling the whole shebang a “political act?” He was partly right; the response to their caper underscored how the political can be very personal.

My sisters, for example, who sneaked in Trillanes at the bottom of the Senate ballot – to give him a chance, to have some fiscalizer in the chamber– let loose a string of curses when he claimed the plot to drag down President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from power had the blessings of the 11 million voters who gave him his Senate seat.

“Color blind ba si Trillanes?” (Is Trillanes color blind?) “Apples are red and oranges, orange!”

“I voted for a Senate seat, not a junta!”

Poor Trillanes; assuming car horns and whistles were declarations of support. I suppose there’s nothing so humiliating for a handsome, macho young man than appropriating a hotel for his party and discovering the only takers are a bunch of old geezers and lawyers stuck in a state of suspended adolescence.

“Get a date with Sonny. He knows how to give a girl some rock and roll. But remember: he cries easy and and bring a gag in case he starts to whine.”

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