Nancy Binay and the Idiosyncratic Filipino Culture
Did you laugh after seeing the well-edited photos and memes above courtesy of our own Filipino photoshop geeks? Well don’t blame yourself though because a congregation of online lurkers and users also did. I for one caught myself chuckling upon these pictures many days ago.
I abhorred Nancy Binay for the reason that she ran for Senate without even having prior political experience. I live in Makati and the Binays have been ruling this city way before I was born: forcing everyone to believe that everyone who lives in Makati live a comfortable life because of the free uniforms, workbooks and notebooks for students, free cakes and movie passes for senior citizens and all other freebies that they use to spoil us. The skyscrapers and first class shopping malls and five star hotels may also testify their claim but few blocks away from those landmarks will make you think twice. Makati, just like any other city, is also a home to illegal settlers, homeless children who can’t go to school and poor people who don’t eat three times a day.
Sa hinaba-haba ng panahong ipinamukha sa’yo na ang mga Binay ang namumuno sa Makati sa pamamagitan ng paglalagay ng mukha ni mayor sa mga notebooks at workbooks ko nung elementary at paglalagay ng mga malalaking picture frames ni Binay sa taas ng black board sa classroom namin, ay hindi ko talaga kilala si Nancy Binay. Nakilala ko lamang siya nung siya ay tumakbo bilang Senador.
I even felt ecstatic and delighted that a lot of netizens vilified and virtually crucified this controversial senatorial candidate because I was convinced that she deserved all the hatred in the world.
But now I regret it.
The 2013 mid-term elections recently culminated with the proclamation of the last three senators who made it to the Magic 12. Majority of the senators who were granted a six-year term at the senate is either relatives of former politicians and movie stars or former senators themselves who were successfully reelected.
However, the unexpected top vote-getter Grace Poe-Llamanzares or reelected senator Loren Legarda could not even topple the controversial Nancy Binay in setting the social media world on fire. Legarda’s New York condominium issues or even Cynthia Villar’s notorious statement about nurses were quickly immobilized by the smoke that was created by the fire of Nancy Binay.
Poor little Nancy stirred up the hornet’s nest by running away from every televised debate and forum and instead focusing on campaign sorties in remote provinces of the country. Yes, the girl only has her surname as her biggest asset since she had no previous experience in public service or politics aside from serving a twenty-year OJT and being her dad’s, the Vice President, personal assistant.
Yet the unflinching girl played the Russian roulette by escaping every chance to engage in a debate with her fellow candidates about the current political and socio-economic issues plaguing the country today. This, together with the vocal defiance of famous comedian and movie star Vice Ganda were enough to alert every single person who has a television and internet connection that something was wrong with the girl who doesn’t like to attend television debates.
But in an anti-climactic plot twist, the poor girl won. Yes, she won! She was even ahead of seasoned politicians Villar, Angara, Honasan and Gordon. But this blog post will not be about sourgraping over her victory.
This is rather a reflection and analysis of the people that we are today and why insulting Nancy Binay based on her skin color and physical appearance is both politically and morally wrong.
The first thing I realized after all these childish and irresponsible hurling of insults and slurs on Nancy Binay is that our country is still racist.
The Philippines is definitely racist.
The reason is not that hard to guess either. Majority of Filipinos still find time to spend their money on various whitening products from toners, facial washes and lotions. The elites in our society including our A-list celebrities make sure that they get to visit their dermatologists regularly to ensure that their skin remains white and “artistahin”.
In this country, your chances of being a famous movie star or celebrity are slimmer if your skin color is very Filipino. From heavy drama thespians to steamy starlets, all are conspicuously fair-skinned which seems completely hypocritical considering that almost ninety percent of Filipinos are brown or dark skinned . If you want to enter show business, you need to dramatically lighten your skin to fit in the injudicious standards of televiewers. Ninety percent of the time, poor people in teleseryes are dark-skinned. Ugly people that should be pitied are dark skinned. Take Luna in Luna Blanca or Nita Negrita for example. When the bida undergoes transformation from ugly duckling to a swan, his/her skin color should dramatically lighten.
There’s a reason why most of the famous celebrities we watch on television are light-skinned. There’s a reason why the Younghusband brothers receive more cheers and screams than Chieffy Caligdong. There’s a reason why the careers of Whitney Tyson or Wilma Doesnt never really took off. There’s a reason why Dra. Vicky Belo has to be mentioned by every celebrity in each of their tv shows or guesting. There’s a reason why every dark-skinned child in school or in the neighborhood has to be teased as “negro/negra” by his/her classmates and playmates. There’s a reason why majority of our commercial models are of mixed race. There’s a reason why we regard white people with blonde hair, blue eyes and pointy noses as the epitomes of beauty.
The reason is that our country is racist.
I find it very ironic that a racist country like ours got very mad when Lee Da Hae’s viral video mimicking Filipino accent surfaced on Youtube or when Claire Danes called Manila a “ghastly and weird city full of cockroaches” or when Taylor Kitsch mistakenly regarded a dilapidated airport in Indonesia as located in the Philippines. I find it very ironic because we get angry when we are being made fun of by foreigners when in the first place, we as Filipinos love to insult and judge our fellow countrymen based on their looks or even accents.
How could anyone forget all those jokes and kitsch about the Bisaya accents of “kasambahays” or yayas? Why do every Inday in radio jokes and commercials have to speak in a funny Bisaya accent? Yet we get angry when a foreigner makes fun of our Filipino accent while speaking English. Why do we always mimic the Chinese people’s way of speaking Filipino? At least they are trying to learn our own language.
Nakakatuliro lamang isipin na naiinis tayo kapag pinagtatawanan tayo ng mga ibang lahi samantalang gayon na lamang kung tawagin natin ang mga Arabo at Bumbay na mababaho at may putok samantalang nakikinabang naman ang mga mahihirap nating kababayan sa 5’6.
Gayon na lamang kung laitin natin ang balat ni Nancy Binay. Kapag naka-orange ay Ovaltine tapos kapag naka-blue Oreo?
The Philippines is a country which discriminates Filipinos but doesn’t want other countries to discriminate Filipinos. But that topic deserves another blog post.
Para sa akin, ang panglalait kay Nancy Binay ay hindi lamang pagiging “racist” kundi pagiging impokrito dahil kung nilait mo si Nancy Binay dahil siya ay maitim eh parang nilait mo na rin lahat ng mga Pilipinong kasing-kulay niya. Ang iba nga eh mas maitim pa sa kanya. Parang sinabi mo na ring pangit ang mga maiitim na Pilipino.
Pero bakit nga ba kasi nanalo si Nancy Binay? Simple lang ang sagot.
Dahil isa siyang Binay.
Kahit hindi siya dumalo sa mga debate sa tv, alagang-alaga naman ng kanyang tatay ang kanyang kampanya. Sinigurado ni Nancy na makakamayan niya ang mga botante ng mga probinsyang malalaki ang populasyon. Habang nakikipagdebate si Risa Hontiveros, Greco Belgica o Ramon Magsaysay Jr. sa tv ay nakikipagkamay at namimigay naman ng mga t-shirts at candies si Nancy sa mga masusugid na tagasuporta ng kanyang ama. Nakakalungkot man isipin ngunit isa sa mga narealize ko sa Nancy Binay story ay karamihan pa rin sa mga Pilipino ay bumoboto dahil lamang sa pangalan.
Wait. Why is it that only Nancy Binay was the one who received mucho criticismo from netizens knowing that majority of the newly elected politicians in local or national posts are also from political dynasties and in fact, more inexperienced if not as inexperienced as Nancy Binay?
Why was Migz Villafuerte spared of any pugnacity when he recently won as the Camarines Sur governor making him the youngest Governor in Philippine history? For the record, he finished his elementary and high school in Manila, got his college degree in the United States and did not hold any government position prior to his bittersweet win as a Governor against his own grandfather. For another record, the Villafuertes have been ruling Camarines Sur for more than 100 years. Surprisingly, it remains as one of the poorest provinces in the country.
Is Jolo Revilla really skilled enough to handle the task of being a Cavite Vice governor? Does his mother Lani Mercado really had that big of a track record when she won as a congresswoman in 2010 and just recently won another three year term? Or did they just enjoy the perks of being a Revilla?
Jinkee Pacquiao as a vice governor anyone? Or Manny Pacquiao as a congressman twice? Singer Dingdong Avanzado as Siquijor vice governor? Lucy Torres Gomez as congresswoman for the second time? Que Horror.
Pinoys love teleserye; no one can contest to that.
Pero minsan pati teleserye nadadala sa eleksyon.
Philippine elections wouldn’t be complete without teleserye-ish scenes gone to life such as family members fighting with each other because they’re running for the same position. Unexpected secrets are revealed. Stoic politicians cry in front of the cameras of the press when their anomalies are revealed. And just like the customary, bidas and kontrabidas come to life.
Nancy Binay became the reincarnation of Mara David and Celyn Buenaventura sans the looks. Meanwhile, her bullies were the kontrabidas in most of the voters’ eyes. Since the Pinoys love underdogs, they sympathized with the poor Nancy. To them, Nancy isn’t that different from Mara who amidst the poverty, physical assaults and verbal abuses she sustained still ends up glorious and triumphant in the teleserye’s finale.
Pinoys love underdogs. Nancy is definitely one of them.
I think that one of the reasons that Hontiveros, Gordon, Magsaysay, Zubiri or even Casino lost even though they have more familiar faces and far superior track record than that of Nancy is that they lacked something that Nancy had. Drama. That’s why they were denied a ticket to the country’s grandest, most talked-about and longest-running soap opera of all time entitled, “The Philippine Senate”. It is sad that our teleserye-ish culture makes it hard for the majority of us to discern what is right from wrong.
The last idiosyncrasy in our Filipino culture that really stood out during the Nancy Binay episode is our religious hypocrisy.
We are a country that boasts itself as the only Catholic country in Asia. We are one of the only two countries in the world which doesn’t legalize divorce. It took a long time before the RH Bill was passed.
But we are also a country of sins, vices and dirty politics.
We are a country who loves to judge, criticize and condemn. We are a country that doesn’t want to be judged, criticized and condemned.
Our faith says that everyone is made according to the likeness and image of God pero kung manlait tayo ay wagas.
Kung nilait mo si Nancy Binay ay parang nilait mo na rin si God diba? Kahit rin naman nanlait ka ng normal na tao ay parang nilait mo na rin ang Diyos. Bakit ganun na lamang tayo ka-judgmental at racist gayong mga Katoliko pa naman tayo?
Eh bakit si Erap na pinatalsik noong People Power 2 eh nahalal na namang alkalde ng Manila?
And Erap is still loved by everyone although he had slept with a lot of women and sired a lot of children from different women, not to mention his past case of plunder and perjury.
One of the most wicked Philippine leaders of all time, Ferdinand Marcos, who together with his wife embezzled billions of pesos from the “kaban ng bayan”, used force to remain in power for another 27 years, sent all those people who went against his rule to jail or death through torture, and removed every basic freedom that a person should have still be regarded by some as the greatest Philippine leader of all time?
And to add insult to the injury, his son is now a senator while his daughter recently won another term as a Governor. Both recently went under public scrutinty when it was revealed that they are tied in a secret offshore trust in British Virgin Islands.
Meanwhile, his partner in crime when he was still the most powerful man in the country, his wife Imelda, won her second term as a congresswoman in Ilocos.
Who could forget the small but definitely a lot terrible Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who after all the allegations of corruption, fraud and scandals she went through, still won as a congresswoman in Pampanga?
It is no surprise though because every time Kris Aquino is in a middle of a crisis which most of the time is caused by her own carelessness, she would just cry her heart out in a TV Patrol interview and alas, the public will accept her again like a troubled daughter who returns back home. The girl will then rake millions of pesos from high-class endorsements, overhyped teleseryes (ironically, she can’t even cry that well in teleseryes) and blockbuster movies. And when she faces another dilemma of her life, she will just repeat her thing again and again.
How can we, as a nation grow if we still pick the same people with the same bad records all over and over again to rule us?
How can a religious, sanctimonious and holier than thou country like ours practice the culture of impunity?
To be frank, I was never a fan of Nancy Binay. Right now, I’m still a non-believer. But there’s something that tells me that we should give credit to where it’s due. Nancy deserves mad props for handling all the public scrutiny, hurl of insults and below the belt remarks with grace and poise. So far, we haven’t seen her cry like a baby to gain sympathy in television. I tell you, Nancy is a mother. She has children who are more affected, if not equally affected with all the ignominy and vituperations that their mother received. I really feel that Nancy cries at night, and as a child who saw her mother cry when he was young, I will tell you that it’s one of the most painful scenes to watch.
All these memes are result of netizens getting angry over the people who voted for Nancy Binay even labeling them as “uneducated”.
But does insulting someone in the grounds of his/her physical appearance make one more intelligent?
Although Nancy has yet to prove herself as a politician, she still deserves respect as a human being: a human being who has a heart capable of feeling emotions and being torn apart. She has tons of workload to do; I swear. Let’s just see what’ll happen in 2019. By that time, I’m already 22 so she still has lots of chances to convince not just me but the entire Filipino voting population to reinstate her as a senator.
I sincerely hope by that time, people will judge Nancy Binay in the grounds of her capabilities and the laws that she passed and not based on her skin color anymore.
I do hope that in time, Filipinos will choose their leaders based on their track record, achievements and platforms and not on their mere surnames alone.
“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” -John 8:7
Thanks for reading my very long article. 🙂
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About erwinagapayA music and movie lover, aspiring author and filmmaker, and a junior student at the University of the Philippines Diliman.
Born on December 1997. Blogging since May 2013.
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