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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Pink Sibuyas In The Room

Would this be an apt first post, right after the Cybercrime Prevention Act (CPA) has taken effect?

Probably not.

Yes, the tears are expected.
(Courtesy of indiamart.com)

But before you turn away, maybe you can hear me out. You see, while the Act is legal in nature, my observation will border on the cultural. This was actually something that was impressed on us in Social Studies class back when I was in elementary school, something that I have found to be true with each working day of my life, and was at the back of my mind until I heard two news items today.

Christopher Lao, a law student back then when he gained national prominence, supports the CPA.

(See: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/-depth/10/03/12/you-are-informed-chris-lao-backs-anti-cybercrime-law)

Celebrities like Sharon Cuneta, Regine Velasquez and Ciara Sotto also support the same measure.

(See: http://www.interaksyon.com/entertainment/sharon-regine-ciara-support-cybercrime-law/)

It led to me to find the common thread between the three fields where these personalities became known: Senator Sotto, currently in politics, was for the longest time a variety show host and actor. Christopher is from the legal profession (he is now a lawyer), while the three ladies are from the entertainment business.

At first glance - probably moreso to someone not from our country - this would seem like a diverse mix, that a politician, a lawyer and entertainers would find common ground, rallying behind a single piece of legislation. (My gut feel is that we in this country are now desensitized from the fusion of the political and entertainment fields. This warrants actual research, so if you know of one, please do let me know.)

So, what is it that binds them together?

My observation is that all of them were in some way, and somehow, made fun of, ridiculed, criticized, even to the point of being villified, albeit with different reasons, but with a similar fate. In short, they all underwent public crucifixion, most notably over cyberspace.

Senator Sotto is no stranger to controversy, being one of the staunchest critics of the Reproductive Health Bill. (Important note: PLEASE VOTE ON THE RH BILL NOW, SENATORS.) It was when he was delivering his speeches about that bill, when it was alleged that he plagiarized parts of his speech from different bloggers. One of them, Sarah Pope, directly called him out on this.

Netizens being netizens, it was a field day to make satirical and humorous posts about this incident. I have read an observation that because of Martial Law in the 70's, it honed us as a people to retaliate against authorities using humor and sarcasm, because an outright confrontation might mean someone's mortality. I am inclined to believe that this is the same phenomenon, since citizens are not in a position to make parliamentary speeches - uninterrupted - the way a senator has the privilege of doing so.

It prompted Sotto to verbally say in one of his speeches that (to paraphrase him) online commenters and critics would soon have to guard and watch what they say and post.

I don't follow local showbiz, but even I was aware that Sharon, known as the Megastar, figured in a public tussle with some fans online, regarding the state of her daughter KC's ended relationship with a hearthrob. And there have been many disparaging remarks about her weight, as well. Apparently, Regine has had to field some online comments about her son, and Ciara did post a buzz-worthy tweet, which I found understandable, because when she posted this, her father was already getting a lot of flak publicly.

Christopher, of course, became an overnight sensation, but in a negative sense: his famous line, "I was not informed!" when he drove his car over a flooded area raised a lot of heckles and jeers online, and spawned off many posters and jokes.

Fast forward to now: depending on which news article you read, Senator Sotto was responsible for inserting the now-talked-about libel provision in the CPA, or he is adamant in denying that he was responsible for its inclusion.

And I was not at all surprised when Christopher and the three entertainers now voice support for the CPA. It goes back to what I was taught: hiya, shame, is a powerful concept in dictating the way we, as a people, relate with each other, and guides the way our relationships - filial, business, romantic - run their course, to a significant extent. (It's something I find we share with our Asian neighbors.)

We revel in the indirect route, and do not relish those who are frank, to the point and forthright. Those who choose to do so run the risk of being called bastos (rude), and it will find cultural support. There is a preoccupation with taking care not to offend another person's sentiments, to the point that sometimes, we prefer uncomfortable silences, leading to so many mixed messages as a result, in order to allow each party to "save face".

Which is why, with their reputations raked over cyberspace, it would but seem natural that those on the receiving end of public scrutiny and ridicule would find solace in each other.

At the end of the day, no one wants to be skewered for all of cyberspace to see.

I do have to say this, though: those in public office, entertainment and people who consent to being interviewed on television should understand that when they volunteered to be where they are at - yes, it is a choice, not one "forced" on you - they will receive feedback, and invariably, not all of them will be pleasant to hear or digest. If the notion of getting flak as a result of "doing what you do" is too much to bear, you may need to ask yourself if the cons outweigh the benefits.

As someone who has maintained a blog for some time now, I readily admit that when I received my first negative response to something I wrote, it stopped me more than I expected to, and with the same reason that Sharon gave (see link): it was under a pseudonym, so I could not really see who I was responding to, and given that s/he sent me words dipped in bile and coated with acid, it did affect me.

But when I looked at my collective responses, and I can now confidently and quantitatively say that there are more people who agree with or support my point of view, or dissent with respect and with good reasons to, than those who make snide remarks (often attacking emotionally and not on the basis of what I have written), I chalk it up to the fact that not everyone will like what I've written, and that is just fine.

Who am I to dictate to people how they feel after reading something, or how they react? Hell, I write my posts with the hope of getting some discourse and reactions going, and possibly a fruitful exchange of ideas. I will have no chance of getting that if I insist that we all have a one-track mind.

That is why I choose not to focus on my feelings of offense - believe me, they happen - and I try to dissect it and see why it is I felt offended. And part of what I know is that, no matter how hard you try, some people will hate your guts, with no logic, rhyme or reason. It could be the way you look, or how nauseated they feel when you open your mouth - it doesn't have to make sense, but guess what?

That is their right, and under their control.

Just as letting it affect you is also under your control.

But, hey, that's just me.

10 comments:

  1. You have good writing skills. :) I enjoyed the read and I agree with what you said Basically if you can't handle the criticism and hate, don't look forward to being famous. But nonetheless, I know who I WON'T be voting for on the next election. :)

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    1. Thank you, S. Surashu. Please feel free to share this lost if you enjoyed it :) I believe Sen. Sotto's term ends in 2016. But, regardless of when, we will need to be more judicious of who we elect. We are witnessing OUR power - that who we elect can shape this country's future. It is not a foreign, distant concept, it should be impressed everyone how POWERFUL our vote is, and to treat it accordingly.

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    2. Ahh, I'll be 25 by then. Far more experienced in voting and still not gonna forget what he did. :)

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    3. I'm counting on all of us to remember what the politicians have done while they were in power. Never forget, as Santayana has admonished us of the consequences.

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  2. I agree with you, Joey. They are public figures -- well except for the guy who got famous for driving his car to the flood -- and that's the price to pay for being out in the open. They had sacrificed their privacy the moment they got into it. Just look at The Hollywood celebrities. Do they have privacy? The more famous they get, the more criticisms they get too.

    And based on personal experience, I can say that everybody's been bullied/made fun of before. But before we start pointing fingers at other people, we should look at ourselves first. We should ask ourselves: "what did I do to deserve such a negative reaction?". Let's say I'm a business woman: If I got ridiculed for my substandard work, which I let my staff do due to my laziness, then common sense dictates that from then on out, I should be more hands-on with my work and I should double-check the final product before delivering it to the customer. Should the haters decide to open their mouths to defame me and my products, I can always rely on my satisfied customers to vouch for me. It is my responsibility to prove everybody wrong. If we find out what's wrong with ourselves, then shouldn't we exert more effort in doing our very best to change our bad habits, than to wage wars with our enemies? IMO, if we stop doing what we're doing that's attracting the bullies, then the bullying will stop. In the case of celebrities, they can opt to get out of showbiz and all that criticism and ridicule will stop. They are no different from us, really. Each of us have haters. It just so happens that these people are in the public sphere and almost 100 million people know them. And besides, since they're famous, their criticisms are posted in public too -- because remember, millions of people know them and millions of people want to say something.

    I get ridiculed for my weight too. It is my job to make it all go away by... dun, dun, dun... losing weight and making them die of envy. I can imagine myself attending a reunion party and seeing the looks on people's faces. From being made fun of when my back is turned to being admired with their jaws on the floor. I'm 31 and they look 50? Oh yeah, that's victory.

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    1. I've had an encounter with someone like that, Tene. (Not directly, but on a tangent basis.) This person starts posting (in social media) about what car to save at the height of a disaster, when so many people have died, so someone else called that person out.

      Hell broke loose. Kesyo it's my wall and I can post what I want. And it's true, but other people can react how they want to also, the same right everyone has and reserves for themselves. Besides, if you post something across social media, aren't you wanting a response? The name itself - SOCIAL media - means the entire point is to interact...kung ayaw ng reaction, be a hermit. or better yet, close your FB, Twitter, etc.

      Same banana with FAMOUS celebrities and PUBLIC officials - both of which are dependent on PUBLIC OPINION if these practitioners in their fields are to have a career. They NEED public approval, adulation and praise. See, if they were consistent, then they should also be critical of those giving POSITIVE responses or comments. The fact that the people complaining about the negative stuff only betrays what they want to legalize. Kaya nga it is NEVER good to legislate on the basis of hurt feelings or offensiveness.

      As far as the ridicule on you goes, it is a reflection on them, not you and never you. Basta you try your best to be healthy, that's all that matters. Malaking bonus if you're a knockout by the time reunion comes along, but if that doesn't happen, life goes on, haters.Go and live your life. :)

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  3. wow, very nice post sir. :-) i agree, if they cannot handle criticisms then they should get out of where they are right now. i have also experiences with trolls in twitter and some harsh comments on my blog, but i just brushed it off. i know my character more than them and although i too have been affected by what they say but its their opinion. they will insist what they believe in, all we can just do is move on. :-)

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    1. Thank you, rojan88. The bad comes with the good, it is part of the territory. More people just need to understand that. And yes, as bloggers, we all will receive criticism, because WE PUT OURSELVES OUT THERE. Kaya tanggap natin yan. not everyone will like us, eh diba basic fact of life naman yan?

      Use the criticism - kung valid at may basehan - to improve ourselves, and kung wala namang saysay, namemersonal lang, you said it: MOVE ON. :)

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  4. thanks for sharing..

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