The beautiful and brainy Filipina

One runs the risk of being labeled gay if he talks eloquently about beauty pageants. A man, specifically a macho man, in the Filipino society is not supposed to be passionate about 80-plus women strutting in long gowns or skimpy bikinis, unless, of course, this passion is erotic in nature, otherwise he is either automatically categorized a homosexual, which is more likely, or a sociologist, which is not very bad, only a covertly homosexual sociologist, that is.

But labels will remain very practical and utilitarian, and they will remain so no matter how smart or dumb they sound so long as people think these labels function to simplify what could have been things too complicated and complex for them to comprehend, so long as people think that not thinking is the next best thing by letting labels think for them, instead. Stereotypical labels are for the intellectually inelegant.

Now allow me talk unabashedly about our obsession as a nation with beauty pageants. While in some countries these spectacles that ‘celebrate’ the sublime beauty of a woman are shunned for being exploitative, shallow, or vacuous, in the Philippines, these spectacles continue to feed the masses’ quixoticism and give the needed affirmation that they can also be beautiful, especially if a representative of the Philippines reaches the top 15, then the top ten, down to the final five contestants.

Seeing their supposedly beauty-and-brain Miss Universe contestant sauntering, traipsing, and walking like a de-legged praying mantis is like seeing themselves on-stage, surmounting whatever challenge thrown to them — tripping on-stage because a portion of the gown caught in the 9-inch hill of the shoe, donning a 200-kilogram national costume, or answering a question from an obviously racist and unqualified judge — all  in the name of bringing honor to the country. Nothing triggers the Filipinos sense of nationalism other than international beauty contests, boxing fights of Manny Pacquiao come to a close second.

Filipinos define being beautiful as having the features of a mestiza (although this is slowly changing), tall, slender, with a 36 (or even bigger)-24 (or even smaller)-36 (this is usually fixed) body statistics.

And because Filipinos have these delusional tendencies that they are smart, they also expect that their beauty queens to be not only freakishly beautiful but also abnormally smart and articulate.

Being brainy, on the other hand, means being able to speak in English complete with all the trappings of accent and twang of a native speaker. As for the substance of her answer, a beauty contestant can always rely on canned responses prepared for her by her trainers, proven through years of experience to always impress the judges whose tastes on beauty are very discriminating and irrevocable; these judges are the final arbiters of the very philosophical question: who is the most beautiful? and by induction, what is beautiful?. Or who gave the smartest answer? and by induction, what is an intelligent answer?.

Regardless of the flaws in the definition of these abstract concepts, a Filipina sent abroad to compete in a beauty contest must possess these two. It’s beauty-and-brain or nothing. Non-negotiable.

So when their beauty queens choke during question and answer, give downright pathetic responses, or let go of grammatically suspect sentences, the Filipinos back home cringe and cry foul.

My pity goes to these women whose major, major mistake is joining these tired competition.


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Just a moment without Manny

http://gq.com

There is no denying that Manny Pacquiao is the best fighter in the world. His name permanently etched in the history of boxing and sports in general as the only man who has captured the boxing belts in seven weight divisions. A feat doubted by, of all, the Filipinos themselves. But for most Filipinos, he’s the only hope that a Filipino can be the best in the world, to tower above everyone else, if he puts his sweat, blood, and soul on whatever he does.

When everything has settled, the euphoria quieted, I ask: When will they stop sending me a deluge of images of Manny Pacquiao? When can I have my normal night minus Manny singing La Bamba, Manny eating sinigang and bihon before his fight, Manny being the biggest little man in the world, Manny talking to Manny Villar on the phone, Manny playing poker, Manny kissing Jinkee, Arnel Pineda defending his rendition of the Philippine national anthem during Manny’s fight, Aling Dionisia’s prayer while Manny was exchanging punches with Clottey, Manny endorsing colored water, Manny talking about having less hairfall and avoiding dandruff, Manny using deodorant ‘apter ebri bat’, Manny sponsoring a Mass, Manny riding Air Pacquiao, Manny returning to Los Angeles with his 130-strong contingent, Manny imitating Fernando Poe Jr.’s movie punches, Manny?

When? I hope it’s going to be soon.

http://nytimes.com

Queer Filipino mind

There is something explicitly funny, if not implicitly fishy, in the way we Filipinos think.

An ABS-CBN reporter praised people falling in line in front of different COMELEC offices in Manila until the wee hours of the evening catching special registrations scheduled by the Commission without mentioning that these people were there because they procrastinated, ignoring the almost one year given to them to register to vote for May.

Chiz Escudero

http://wagnalang.wordpress.com

Chiz Escudero, one of the front liners in this presidential election is brandishing change and non-traditional politicking, but his ads are flagrantly traditional showing him in the time-tested and trite politician’s handshake with sampaguita garlands on his neck and bodyguards that keep a safe distance between him and the affectation of the public. There was, however, no mention of his platform of government, only a very broad, undefined clamor for change which only he probably knows what type, made even murkier by his lengthy, monotonous, and overly empathic statements. Change what? Lemme ask.

Manny Pacquiao, calzada

http://calzada.wordpress.com

Filipino congressmen, 20 or more of them in the Lower House, are going to Las Vegas to watch Manny Pacquiao’s fight against Miguel Cotto on November 15. This is despite criticisms from some people in their league and the public. Still these 20 or so gutless politicians are pursuing their plans, unmindful of the negative public opinion. After all, this so called ‘public opinion’ has long been dismissed as a vestige of the golden age of Philippine politics, unnecessary and purposeless; this concept has long lost is power to influence the actions of our politicians. And it will not matter now, on November 15, or any time soon.

Moreover, to most Filipino politicians, there’s no better political ad than being seen, even for a split-second, beside Pacquiao after he knocked Cotto unconscious.

Parol

ABS-CBN’s Parol (Christmas lantern) ni Bro was just lighted. Now, it must inspire a different kind of hope in somebody who is crestfallen after a tiring day at work, riding a non air-conditioned bus plying EDSA-Kamuning flyover, and to see from a distance this giant hybrid lantern supposedly meant to symbolize the infant Christ. Something which he knows is nothing but another commercial posing.

Noynoy Aquino

http://cctv.com

Noynoy Aquino’s poll ad, which started airing last week, is another talk-of-the-town. For the first time, I saw Noynoy Aquino confident about himself, so sure that he’ll have May 2010. He’s never been like this before. He was an under-accomplished son of two heroes, whose only bill made to a law is changing the status of an obscure street in Tarlac, his home province, to a national highway.

Unable to prove himself, he unsuccessfully attempted to embrace the shadows that are bigger than he is. Caught by circumstance, he reluctantly accepted the challenge to lead a wounded country, thinking that having heroes for both parents is enough to bring change. In the desperation of the Filipino people for change, they are willing to literally try anyone, even an untried son of heroes.

And being one of them, this blogger, a Filipino himself, writes these queer thoughts about topics whose subjects are these odd island people.

Ads in Pacquiao’s fight: the limit of what can be taken in

I could go down from the eleventh floor to buy something from a 7eleven store a hundred meters away and return to my room without missing a moment in Pacquiao fight because advertisements from end to end lasted for a minimum of 10 minutes while the actual fight itself, snippets actually, only lasted a minute before the next barrage of ads is aired.

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GMA7, the official partner of Solar Sports Entertainment, in the airing of this fight went beyond the ante which is eight minutes of ads per 30-minute slot because it is not a member of Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster sa Pilipinas, an organization of media professionals that determine the length of advertisement its members can have. GMA7, being a non-member since 2003, is excluded from this code.

According to a news article in Philippine Daily Inquirer, Solar Sports Entertainment collected a total revenue of 100 million pesos on that day from advertisers alone, without accounting for revenues from pay-per-view that broadcast the fight live. GMA7, on the other hand, according to an executive who refused to be named interviewed for that news articl, got a fixed amount from the deal with Solar Sports Entertainment which holds the rights to cover Pacquiao fights until 2010. This means that regardless of the total earning, GMA7 received a fixed amount stipulated in the contract signed between the above-mentioned news organizations.

Because the fight ended too abruptly and unceremoniously in a matter of five minutes and 59 seconds leaving Hatton unconscious and Pacquaio unscathed, the people who are in their homes glued to their televisions and those who paid hefty amount to watch the fight live were taken aback by the speed and at the same time unsatisfied. For those who stayed in their houses, this was aggravated by the overly extended, exasperating commercials.

Pacquiao’s fight is one of those few bankable events where television rating of whichever station gets the coverage rights approaches to almost a hundred percent, allowing their products to have the best exposure there could probably be. So most companies furiously compete for airtime, and the station being too eager to sell airtime in exchange of revenues, as a result, jeopardizes the viewers’ right for a decent viewing experience.

A friend commented that GMA7, knowing beforehand that Pacquiao won just before lunch time, even extended the length of ads in a desperate attempt to recoup the lost money due to the “premature” conclusion of the bout. And I couldn’t agree more. One does not need a deep knowledge of TV station programming to understand and realize that GMA7 and Solar Sports Entertainment exaggerated their greed for profit. It was outrageous to a point that anyone thrown with that amount of ads could either be dyspeptic by now or has puked. I experienced both. We all did.

Manny Pacquiao and the Filipinos’ sense of a nation

manny

I’ve watched the fight through a rerun made by Yahoo.  After watching the 2-minute summary of fight that was dubbed as the “Fight of the Year” I was at awe.  Manny Pacquiao won it in an almost surgical fashion, like a professional surgeon doing the incision on a sedate patient’s throat in a calm manner–punches that seemed to be instinctual but at the same time a result of years of experience as a professional pugilist.

Seeing Manny’s performance, who won’t be proud to be a Filipino?

The boxing event that prematurely ended in the eight round was a spectacle that will forever remain etched in the memories of Filipinos glued on their television screens despite the advertisements that ran longer than the main event itself. Nevertheless, Filipinos are a patient nation, so they waited, shouted, cheered as their hero from General Santos City exchanged punches with the Golden Boy.

De La Hoya, suffered irreversible injuries from the battering thrown by the Filipino champion in the third round that foreshadowed the grim conclusion for the Mexican. De La Hoya fell, the Filipinos all over the archipelago rejoiced.

This win will at least unify my country for a matter of three days. After which things will go back to how they usually are: disunity, discontent, people getting impatient with a government that has remained insensitive and acting blind to the plight of the Filipinos.

Manny will occupy half of the primetime news slot for three days or probably a week. The scene will be played and replayed until the viewers get fed up.

Politicians will flock around him, basking in the glory of the Champion boxer, in an attempt to take advantage of the media exposure, after all Philippine elections is not too far away.

Resident of General Santos, as in last year, will mob the gates of Pacquiao’s residence in General Santos City for the money the boxer will give away. Balato, an all Filipino concept of “redistributing” wealth or good fortune, will again be at play. Of course, the prize will add to the boxer’s financial coffer. It won’t be bad to share a little.

win

The Filipino sense of a nation is grounded on nothing but personalities, such as Manny Pacquiao, but this is better than nothing. At least for days, the sense of euphoria of Manny’s win will postpone political bickering, cause the economy to surge for a few points, rest the administration’s call to change the constitution.

If only a fight of this magnitude is staged everyday just so Filipinos realize that they are one nation. If only we can produce many Manny Pacquiaos who will let their faces be sacked, punched, made atrocious just so the Filipinos will realize that they are worth fighting for.
I can’t wait for the next fight.