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It's like, "I care for you because when I do, I look good."
"I like to show you (and others) how I care for you. But I don't really care for you. I care only because other people are looking / watching me act good. And when people think of me as "good," I feel full. I feel full because I look good in the minds and eyes of others. I want to look good. Always. That is my identity. When people think I could be trusted, they will flock to me. They will always want to be with me. They will also care for me, always. And when they do, I have tons and endless supply of attention / love / care / compassion, etc. to mine."
Notice that the blatant examples F Sionil Jose presents as shallow are institutions or individuals operating within its system.
In choosing candidates for government, we value form more than content
Why should we complain about the highest positions in government being occupied by individuals who are more popular than they are capable when we voted for them in the first place?
Why did we elect Lito Lapid / Bong Revilla Jr / Manny Pacquiao?
Because we `know' them more than we know other candidates. We could easily attach a face and a personality to their names compared to - for example - attaching a face or a personality to the names: Danilo Lim, Jovito Palparan Jr or Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel.
In fairness, why would we vote for someone we don't know?
Because we can easily relate with most celebrity candidates, by them being in position, we feel their success is ours too.
It is like they are the better part of ourselves who managed to beat the system by being part of it. And so we not just vote for them, we root for them. And if FPJ is still alive, we'd root for him too if ever he delivered the State of the Nation address. We like him, we love him, he loves us - us as the "little people." He would defend us if necessary - or at least that's the impression they give. And that is more than enough for us.
And we've seen their movies, We know how they fight (the bad guys).
In our heads, they look exactly like we imagine we would look if we also fought the bad guys in our lives. We imagine that they are like us, `lamang lang sila ng isa - dalawang paligo.' We identify with them.
Why did we elect Noynoy Aquino?
Because we know his mother. His mother reminds us of a friend's mother or our grandmother. And we know his sister, we know his family. We identify with his family more than Dick Gordon's family. Who is Dick Gordon anyway? Does he even have a sister? Who cares about Noynoy's legislative performance? We have never known a political family as intimately as we have the Aquino's. His father was assasinated, his mother died of cancer, his sister had STD and he is a smoker like some of us. And we have seen his girlfriends. They're all pretty. We wonder why he isn't married yet?
See, we know so much about him that it seems we can talk about him as if he is our next door neighbor. We know more about Noynoy than we do other presidential candidates. The fact that we call him by his first name elicits for us a faint sense of closeness and casualness without us actually being close to him.
Why would we vote for someone we don't even know?"
Our "tendency" to choose and elect popular politicians this way was made possible by "a specific decision taken by Congress in the 1950's, which (eliminated) bloc voting...The elimination of bloc voting..(gave) the electorate greater, full freedom of choice. It also meant that `electability' became even more crucial; it meant that unless you...(had)...decades of political experience and national exposure, it would be just as easy for a celebrity to vault to the Senate as it would be for a politician climbing up the old fashioned way....
Immediately after bloc voting was abolished...matinee idol Rogelio dela Rosa was elected senator." (The Long View: The origins of celebrity politics by Manuel L Quezon III).
Philippine local mainstream movies value what (they think) we think
Philippine mainstream entertainment media - TV and film - is arrogant because it assumes that it knows what majority of Filipinos want to watch when the Philippine mainstream entertainment media itself does not know what it wants.
Where is the arrogance coming from? It's coming from the fear of not knowing deep inside what it wants so it looks outside of itself for something to fill what it thinks it wants. And the system carries over that fear to the people it makes movies for,
For the system, a mainstream Filipino movie is not a movie if it is not LIKE a Hollywood movie.
I learned the definition of the word "peg" and how this word should be used when I was attending brainstorming meetings for a mainstream local film production company. For instance, when "pitching" a story
- as in throwing an idea or "concept" (hoping it would stick in the minds of people who have the power to either turn it into a full-fledged movie or spend eternity collecting dustmites in filing cabinets) -
it is important to mention a peg for it.
Their quintessential question is: "Ano peg mo?"
And you respond with:
"The character is like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman but she is the female version of Robert Pattinson in Twilight."
or the basic formula goes:
popular mainstream Hollywood movie + popular genre of a mainstream Hollywood movie + popular Hollywood movie character = local Filipino mainstream movie
At that time, I could not understand why there should be a peg. How could anyone create something "original" when the basic template of how a story and its characters are to be laid out must be something we have all seen/watched before?
But no one could argue against the system because it claims to know what "Aling Bebang" wants. Plus, it has has the box office receipts to prove it.
Notice that the system is looking outside for content instead of in. It is referring to foreign models, ideas, sensibilities, actors, apple-pie-eating movie characters to fill a 90-minute movie meant for south east asians who eat "bibingka."
Thankfully, their paradigm is now shifting thanks to the success of this quirky film originally disapproved for production by the mainstream powers-that-be.
And mainstream TV also works this way - with the exception of a very rare few.
Have you noticed anything familiar with the current local programs?
Some are franchise shows purchased from foreign production companies.
Because we do not trust ourselves enough to make something our locals would want to watch and so depend on something that is ready-made and has worked in other countries with the hope (coupled with strong PR & marketing efforts) that these too would work and be watched in our country and be appreciated within our cultural context.
Us who do watch these shows believe that by doing so, we put ourselves at par with other countries we look up to as "developed" and by our virtual association with them, feel that we are like them too - or at least we believe we are thinking the same way they do.
In seeming contrast, shows and productions made locally are popular in their own respect because they play off our wants/needs by exploiting these to the hilt.
In his ABS-CBN show, Willie Revillame exclaims at 0:53: "Ako bahala sa inyo."
When he transferred to TV5, he puts up a similar show and names it Willing Willie. He announces at 1:39 that their show will give everyone hope - the hope "YOU have long been waiting for."
"Willing-willie ang lahat sa aming pagbibigay Ng saya at pag-asa na inyong hinihintay"
And in his current show, notice the lyrics of his program's theme song:
At 3:49, he again dangles the promise that their show is dependable, that it will never fail you. Your life will change thanks to their show. At 3:26 he sings:
"Maraming buhay ang magbabago"
And those of us who believe we cannot do these on our own, when we feel helpless, when we think there is nothing else to do but watch and depend on his show - we do.
F Sionil Jose says Education is shallow
I have no statistics or data about the quality of Philippine education save for the experience I had studying in a public school and a private Catholic elementary and high school.
I do know that - out of all the teachers I had - there was one who taught us Araling Panlipunan without talking down on us - Ms Manguerra.
But most teachers I had mainly based grades on how students are able to memorize the what's, when's how's of Home Economics, History, etc.
No one needs to know the why's.
Is it a mystery then why the same kind of what/when/where facts are valued now and not the why's of why we should care - or not care - about these facts at all?
Religion values what (they think) we (should) feel, act, do
he tells a story of a wife (Joanna) who was beaten up by her husband (Rosendo) because she failed to wash his pants. The wife - as dictated by her good sense and her natural instinct for self-preservation - went to the police for protection and to report the event. And the homily immediately "surmised" that by her doing so, "their marriage is on the rocks."
The homily did not "surmise" that the marriage was on the rocks when he beat her up just because she did not do laundry.
The marriage was on the rocks and "is (a) far cry from the ideal..community (full) of life and love" because "their case (is now written) on the police blotter."
In short, `nadungisan na.'
It is now blemished.
It is not anymore picture-perfect, not anymore "ideal."
"When Joanna reported the maltreatment by Rosendo to the police, the husband and the wife were...(now)...involved in the SCANDAL."
The issue is not the abuse, it is not the violence, it is the scandal of exposing a damaged "marriage."
The church does not care about the relationship. It only cares about the disfigurement of the marriage and how this reflects on them as the one who created and blessed this "ideal" institution.
And because the husband and wife are Christians and are therefore part of a Christian community, their scandal is now the community's scandal.
They consider people not as individuals but as extensions of themselves; of the church; of their identity.
"..the Christian community experiences cracks in its unity and the whole body suffers.."
And they "surmise" that this scandal is equal to exposing their children to public ridicule - not abuse or violence but that the kids will be vulnerable to humiliation.
It matters little that the children has been traumatized by witnessing the abuse inflicted by their father to their mother. The children's main concern, in the mind of the church, is how they will be perceived by the Christian community who now knows the embarrassing scandal about their family. (And if you're a narcissist yourself, you find nothing wrong with this.)
It does not matter that the children will have to deal with post traumatic stress disorder or the fear that their mother might be hurt again or if it will be the kids who'll be hurt by their abusive father, it is the RIDICULE of exposing the scandal that the children will suffer from.
Can you see all the false identities trying to rear its ugly albeit benevolent head in Philippine mainstream institutions?
False Identity = (Fill in the Blank) Identity
In an electoral campaign for a governmental position, there is candidate for President X, Senator Y or Congressman Z who is the sole main character. There may be other characters working in the periphery, but what matters is the identity being brandished by a certain BIDA X (feel free to fill in a person or name you feel appropriate).
When BIDA X promises to deliver services / goods to you and promises to make you as the priority and makes you think that you are the boss - this is merely smoke and mirrors.
The real fire is BIDA X. This is about him, not you. You are an expendable extra to the movie in his mind. You may be a real person, but to BIDA X you are existing only to make him look good. What matters is BIDA X and what you think of him. So he expends all efforts possible for you to prop up his identity as a future President, Senator, etc. with the help of your vote. You are a prop to a show starring him and only him.
Your identity - even if you have one - does not matter. Only his identity does. Every action is all about him, your thoughts should be about him. If anything happens to you, he might SHOW concern for you but all he is really concerned with is how his display of concern impacts the identity he wants everyone to see. You exist, you matter because he says you do. You are an accessory to BIDA X's goal. It does not matter if he is really brilliant or not, what matters is you think he is and that you don't double check his claims.
The same process works in media specially TV and film. When networks, when TV shows, when TV personalities, celebrities claim that they made the movie better "para sa inyo";
when they made the show more entertaining "para sa inyo";
when they exclaim, "Maraming salamat po, ginagawa po namin lahat ng ito para sa inyo"; "Kayo ang bida dito;"
it is NOT you they are doing this for. They are doing this to prop up their identity as a top-rated program/most-watched network/most-loved network/most popular celebrity. They only care about you in relation to how much you pay attention to them - be it good or bad - and how your attention is affecting them. You are needed to supplement their marketing/PR-manufactured identity.
Religion is the ultimate playground of narcissism and its narcissist angels. It does not matter that a husband beat up his wife. What matters is that their exposure brought cracks to the image of the church and defiled the institution it promoted as infallible. The church cannot see the abuse or violence or the hurt felt or experienced by the people involved, they can only see an event as how it affects them - in this case, it is a scandal. The identity of the church - the community - was hurt.
They don't see a community of people, they see a picture of an "ideal community."
They can not see people as people but extensions of the church's identity. When its members fail to act as according to the script of the movie the church wants people to see, it is a humiliation. The church feels no guilt, only shame. This is why they coddled and kept and hid priests accused of abuse. The accused priests are extensions of the church's "ideal" identity. Exposing them will destroy and humiliate the church's identity as an "ideal" community of life and love.
It is all about identity. It is all about putting up a good, ideal, picture-perfect show.
Narcissism and codependency are made for each other, they feed off of each other.
One has a lack that the other fills and vice versa.
Narcissism always makes sure it gathers enough people around him to build up his flimsy ideal while codependency makes sure its own feelings of emptiness are filled by being identified with the false identity built by narcissism.
As long as people believe they are not enough as themselves,
as long as they need someone stronger than they are (e.g. a powerful govt connection),
as long as they don't see the power they have and so depend on someone else to give this to them (e.g. a rich, generous celebrity),
as long as they are always waiting for someone or something to tell them who they are, what they are, what they should do, what they need to be - (e.g. a benevolent man of god),
they will always succumb to the enticing call of shallowness and narcissism.
Is calling people "shallow" enough of a solution?
I feel awareness of our feelings of needy-ness would be a good start.
So what if DLSU Manila's Accounting Office do not accept debit payments for charges which are P500 or less.
So what if I had to withdraw cash at an ATM machine conveniently located just outside the office.
So what if - when I asked the second time if they accept cash - the accounting staff implied "no" yet did not give me a straightforward negative response and instead asked me to wait while he proceeded to serve the other customers who are in line. I do not understand why I sighed in mild irritation & decided to withdraw cash just to get things over and done with.
(Note to self: I wonder why I used the word "customers" when I was actually referring to students - though it does feel like I am in a Globe Business Center than inside the University Registrar. I also felt - while waiting in line at the Accounting Office - that I was purchasing grocery and not paying for academic forms. )
In hindsight, I was already mildly annoyed when I entered the Accounting Office that I failed to notice the writing desk situated at the center of the room which has a ready pen resting atop it. Instead, I proceeded to grab the pen lying on an accounting staff's desk as if I owned it and as if the staff who was sitting there owed me something. Prior to this, I was at the Registrars office waiting for my number to be called. When the number I was holding flashed on the screen, I was assisted by a smiling highly informed staff who expertly knows to a T the processes of where to get what form/from whom/how much/ and when.
I still do not know why I should be angry when everything is obviously so efficiently run like a well-oiled machine.
There are even easy-to-understand signs of where one should stand, sit or wait when paying for which/ asking for what or talking to whom that it is virtually impossible for anyone to make a mistake as university staff make sure everyone is guided as to where one is supposed to be and what one should expect.
The appropriate signs alone do the job just as dutifully that one instantly has no choice but to know their place in that world.
Also, the process of distinguishing what one is supposed to do and not do is made easy, accessible and so in-your-face that it is easy to feel ashamed if ever he or she fails to do so.
The system has allowed any deviation to be clearly and obviously evident that any slight aberration is immediately seen and judged as that - if ever such a thing occurs, one instantly becomes a walking, living, breathing red flag.
There are also metal detectors at the university gate entrance.
Book thievery detectors - akin to metal detectors found in malls - and an ID scanner are positioned at the entrance and exit doors of the university library. There are also railings, police-line-like tapes to guide you where to walk, where to proceed or where to stop when asked to.
The system makes sure everyone is properly accounted for.
The service is 99.99% seemingly efficiently excellent.
A kind Discipline officer even went out of the Discipline Office and chased after me despite me receiving a response from him that our transaction was completed - to which I appropriately thanked him for. He explained and made sure he corrected himself when he mentioned that I should expect the form I requested tomorrow - not in the morning he clarified but in the afternoon. He further made clear that the reason for this is because I submitted my request late in the evening. I thanked him eagerly and wanted to tell him that I will retrieve the form next week because it was not needed until next month so it wasn't such a big deal, but I didn't. I was so hungry I just wanted to get out of there and eat dinner.
Suddenly, I had the feeling that the system is eager to give everyone good service not because it wants to but because it is afraid not to.
It is as if the system wants everyone to not complain, to have no reason to complain.
The system does not want to have any faults.
The system wants itself to be perfect, un-flawed, ideal. Smooth.
Now, who does not want that to happen?
Who does not want to see someone be reprimanded by the system when he or she unfairly cuts in a long line of students waiting to have their turn at the Registrar's window? - which my father did when he was in a hurry to pass my application years ago.
Who in their right mind does not want to remove the possibility of anyone cutting in line in the first place? - which I sometimes do (and I wonder who else doesn't?)
Who wants to see library books stolen? (which a friend and I did at our Catholic elementary school - she stole a book on Lola Basyang & I stole a book on Snoopy)
Who does not want to hear that XYZ form would be available at this time and voila - it is!
The system wants to give excellent service not because it wants to but because it is afraid of the consequences if it doesn't.
Now, why should I be angry about that?
The system also expects that everyone keep in line so that everything will flow smoothly with no hitches. "It is for us as much as it is for you" the system seems to say.
Now why should I be angry about that?
Is it because in the "real world" that exists outside the university, such efficiency does not exist? Is everyone then being set up to be frustrated once they leave the confines of that academic world?
But isn't such a system already existing in the `real world' now? - albeit less efficient but it is trying to appear & make you think that it is.
Isn't such a system patterned from commercial establishments?
The organized efficiency I saw seemed to eerily echo the same kind of service from dutiful SM/Puregold/Landmark cashiers. The only difference is the flash of fear I see from the faces of hapless / submissive SM/Puregold/Landmark cashiers / baggers - if ever someone complains - is absent in the faces of the university's dutiful staff.
Instead, what is present is a kind of formalized tension swept under a veneer of self-preserving authority.
The fear present in cashiers and baggers are mixed with the hope and personal affirmation that "I can handle this" or "My manager / supervisor can handle this" or the unspoken "Please-don't-make-me-lose-my-contractual-job-just-because-I-placed-bread-inside-the-plastic-bag-first-and-not-the-1kg-brown-sugar" fear.
University staff have no such anxiety. What is present is the self-assured vibe that they will never fuck up. "Maybe you will, but not us." But all the same, "We are deathly afraid if ever we do but we make sure no one finds out, not even you."
But see, the kind of system large Philippine commercial institutions are doing their best to emulate in order to be considered "world-class" are those which come from first world countries - the kind where John Cleese is from. He has most likely seen and experienced what we're now doing our best to understand and live with - institutionalized control.
The system is afraid we are not conscious or self-aware enough to discipline ourselves, so they think they have to.
Is there a lot of fear now because there's a lot at stake?
For people who have no choice but to work in the system, what is at stake is their job - their source of income and livelihood.