Who are our true role models abroad?
Would you say, my pal Merlie asked recently, that Manny Pacquiao is a good role model for Filipino boys?
And didn’t I, on hearing the question posed by my old friend (who’d come all the way from Kowloon to visit me on Lantau Island in the New Territories), ask if she was being facetious? Couldn’t I discern from her tone of voice that she really meant that the celebrated congressman is a lousy example for our youth, making me feel irritated that she was being disingenuous by presenting her opinion as a query? Why, I wondered, was she asking me such an obvious question when she knew full well I hate the insane sport of boxing as much as I do race-car tournaments which damage our environment?
So didn’t I play along with Merlie and point out that our world-famous pugilist is a phenomenon in the sports world because, like Tiger Woods and his famous swing, Manny has magic fists admired by most men—and some women too who approve of the money those fists have produced? And hadn’t she turned indignant at my remark because she said violent sports like boxing do not promote harmony among human beings? Is the savagery involved in beating up one’s fellowman, she demanded, of any benefit to mankind? What, I needled her, about womankind? Doesn’t it benefit the congressman’s wife because of the wealth she now enjoys? Isn’t it nice that he can provide, not just for his offspring but for his mother as well, so that the whole clan can now live in comfort? Don’t we Filipinos all dream of winning the lottery (or marrying rich mates) because, as the great Mao Tse-tung once declared to his impoverished long-suffering people, “To get rich is glorious?”
So what, Merlie demanded, about the Filipino love of cockfighting—do you approve of that sport too because some people end up with loads of cash? How can you ignore the violence inflicted on dumb animals and the numbing effect on men’s brains, especially young boys?
Why, I pursued the subject, was she suddenly worrying about Filipino youth when we know they’re smarter than us oldtimers? How could she question the fact that kids these days are smarter than the older generation? Why did I need to remind her that it was young Onel de Guzman who, on May 4, 2000, generated from his hovel in a Manila slum the “Love Bug,” one of the first computer viruses that disabled PCs worldwide? Hadn’t that event made multitudes around the globe marvel at a Filipino’s technical ingenuity? And is that, she demanded, a good thing? Don’t most young people today have no common sense because their heads are stuffed with bits of silly information instead of lots of serious knowledge? You mean, I teased her, rather like Henry Higgins remarked to his friend Colonel Pickering about Eliza Doolittle, that women’s heads are “stuffed with cotton, hay and rags?” while adding that “straightening up their hair is all they (women) ever do, why don’t they straighten up (instead) the mess that’s inside?”
Rich and lucky ducks?
Hadn’t we both collapsed with laugher at that, going on to discuss another of our distinguished congressmen, Ronald Singson? Wasn’t it dumb of him to think he could come to Hong Kong with banned drugs stashed in his jockey shorts and think he could get away with it? Wasn’t it nice that his father is so rich he was able to hire a high-priced Australian lawyer to defend him in court? And wasn’t the young congressman a lucky duck to have been given a reduced sentence for his foolishness?
Meanwhile, I asked, what about those three foolhardy victims of a Manila recruiter who were nabbed smuggling drugs from China and ended up being executed because they couldn’t afford an expensive lawyer to defend them—even after our insipid vice president and an equally flabby senator went begging to Beijing for mercy? Didn’t all that make you want to throw up your hands in disgust and despair at all the madness that keeps blighting the lives of too many of our unlucky kababayan?
At which point Merlie pleaded, can we just forget about those disgusting fellows and think instead of all admirable Filipina who make us proud of our country? You mean, I inquired, the thousands of women who’ve left families behind and toiled for decades in Hong Kong households (and in far-flung places), earning the gratitude, not just of their families who’ve survived, but of our feckless government which claims to care for their welfare but really just cares for their remittances—not to mention all the employers worldwide whose lives would have been pretty miserable without their help?
Yes, Merlie replied with firm conviction, those are our true role models!
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