Teaching

Maki-Uson din ako

I don’t know where to start. All I know is that my Facebook news feed is flooded with posts against the appointment of the blogger Mocha Uson to a government post.

What has become of us? But then again, is this a manifestation of postmodernism in our society today wherein the grand narrative of needing Civil Service eligibility, proper and extensive training in writing and communications can be done away with because the powers-that-be have written off the usual qualifications for this one?

Does this mean that I have to study the provisions for political appointees in the first place and stand corrected if, technically, the President is indeed entitled to appointing whoever he wishes to. Key words are “entitled” and “wish to”.

If that is the case then, I go to the issue of morality and propriety. Is is proper and fitting for a Mocha Uson to be appointed to a government for the simple reason that she is rabidly loyal and very pro-Duterte in her writings and stance? As the president pointed out, he appointed her out of “utang na loob” which, to me, is actually a detrimental Filipino cultural trait. In the name of “utang na loob” hundreds (if not thousands) of unqualified candidates have been given government posts or jobs because of it. The one who appoints owes them something — a debt of gratitude that cannot be paid in cash and must be paid only through a favor.

This and other questions run through my mind. Is this my UP arrogance (as some would contend) speaking when I call her out as unfit for the role of an Assistant Secretary simply because she does not look, talk, write or think like it? I still think that government leaders must have a modicum of propriety and proper training when appointed to office. But then again, if you look at many of our politicians today that seems to be a rare thing in politics these days.

TV shows would pale in comparison to Philippine politics today. Our politics and the politicians resemble that of a circus, a comedy of errors (to borrow from Shakespeare’s title) and a wrestling match. It’s both a sad and an amusing reality and way of life. But hey this is the Philippines where anything goes and nothing is impossible.

Just look at Mocha Uson and her being an Assistant Secretary.

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Teaching

Catharsis

Someone once asked me if I write.  I told him I write whenever I’m happy (very happy), sad and mad.  Today, I feel the latter emotion.  Mad and infuriated is more like it.  I had a very good day today at work — reading my journal articles and discussing history and life with a workmate — until I got on Facebook and saw all the posts about Sen. Sotto.  I was already disappointed and kind of mad knowing that Sec. Gina Lopez’ appointment was not approved by the Commission on Appointments.  And like adding salt to a wound, came Tito Sotto’s remarks about DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo’s civil status.

I wanted to lash out at him, at his supporters and even his family.  I wanted to tweet and post something vitriolic and harsh but something caught me.  It allowed me to think twice and see all these from the lens of history and from a social scientist.  What does it say about us as a society?

A thought just crossed my mind about how the Senator got into Congress.  He was elected by the masa (masses).  And so I thought about how his remark caused a furor on social media TODAY but tomorrow and in the years to come, will the masa learn from this incident or will they revert back to their short-term memory?  Just like how we treated the Marcoses, welcoming them back to power simply BECAUSE WE FORGAVE.  Will this incident be among those that will be chalked up as something “forgivable” instead of something to really THINK DEEPLY ABOUT and cause us to examine issues?

Yes, I wanted to post something harsh and bitter but then again what we are seeing right now is simply a mere reflection of us.  I might not have voted for him but the majority did seeing as he is part of the Senate right now.  It makes me think what I, as a History teacher, keep lamenting against:  that most of the Filipino DO NOT REALLY THINK DEEP AND HARD about Philippine politics, social issues and Philippine History.  What we care more are personalities and yes, money.  I sound harsh, cynical and bitter but this is the truth without its sugar coating.

Call me an intellectual snob and I am indeed one but this is precisely the reason why I chose to teach Philippine History when I was younger.  I dreamt that — someday — the masa would eventually learn to study History, think hard about politics and choose politicians who are full of integrity, wisdom, intelligence and a fear of God.  Sigh.

And while that remains a dream, I will keep talking about this in the classroom and calling on young people to think and study Philippine History as if their lives (and the future of the country) depend on it.

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Sen. Sotto’s conversation with the DSWD Secretary

Sen. Sotto: On a lighter note, Secretary.  We’ve been looking at your personal information and found out that you have two children? Daughters ba or sons?

Sec. Taguiwalo: Yes, two daughters.

Sen. Sotto: But you’re single? (This question drew laughter from the room.)

Sec. Taguiwalo: I’ve never had a ‘normal’ family, if that’s how you call it, growing up.  But it’s a non-issue.

Sen. Sotto: Ah kasi sa amin, if you have kids, tapos wala kang asawa ang tawag diyan ‘na-ano lang’. (Drawing more laughter from the room.)

Sec. Taguiwalo: Senator, I teach women’s studies in UP.  The definition of a family also includes solo parents.  Thank you.