While Fabucelles beat me by a week or so to writing something new for The POC, it didn't take long before I figured out a good angle to discuss the unfortunate Davao incident where Davao Mayor Sara Duterte ended up repeatedly punching a sheriff because he wouldn't grant a two-hour reprieve before the demolition.
All I can think is, if the objective was to prevent violence by using violence, then somebody obviously forgot to think about that too well.
I actually am a fan of the Duterte's, when it comes to turning Davao into the city it is today. Consider the fact that Davao is arguably more technologically advanced and much cleaner than Manila is, and it's easy to see why I have the highest regard for their governance in Davao. I've been there once, and I was impressed by what I saw.
That doesn't make the punch okay.
No, really. It doesn't.
On the surface, it would seem that the biggest difference would be that among all these issues, only the one with Sara Duterte involved a woman. Sure, Lourd De Veyra used an inevitably sexist trope by using the whole TNL bit, but for all of Lourd's intellect, I seriously don't think PC was in the list of his considerations when he made his point. It isn't an excuse. It's just to point out that it isn't unexpected at all.
That the TNL phenomenon has opened itself to a wide variety of interpretations whether literal or satirical is testament to its influential capacities and the fact that it has grown beyond the mere intentions of its originators. In fact, I would go so far as to say that two very divergent interpretations of Lourd's article - that it was, on one hand, ridiculing the violence inflicted by Sara Duterte; or, on the other hand that it actually glorifies it and is preferable to flat out inaction from our officials. I have seen both sides argued capably by people who have read De Veyra's piece, and even if Lourd would unequivocally state his intent one way or the other, perception is reality in this case.
Which, in turn, leads me to be nonplussed when people more intelligent than I cry "sexism". Not that it isn't a valid interpretation, or that I must dismiss their feelings on the matter (And why would I, being a feminist ally myself?), but two things should be obvious from reading Lourd's article, and being familiar with his body of work:
1. Lourd De Veyra was never the paragon of political correctness. Feel free to get angry, or even challenge him over that fact, but to act surprised that he had to use the TNL trope, a trope he had a hand in, to begin with, is like being shocked that The Rock can't go through a match without doing a Rock Bottom or a People's Elbow.
2. Contrary to the hypothesis of Sparks, people did not come down on Sara Duterte more because she was a woman. If anything, people came down on her less, with most people I know, myself included, initially musing how "cool" it was for the lady mayor to show that bad ol' sheriff who's boss, before they realized that a punch to solve a violent situation is a self-defeating endeavor.
It doesn't even go into the realm of intent, or gender-blindness, because it's fairly obvious that if it were Rody Duterte who did the punching, the same people in our immediate circles would have criticized the elder Duterte as well. The only sexism at work could have been a case of giving Sara Duterte more slack for the incident because she's female, rather than immediately calling for her head on a platter.
Sexism is secondary to abuse of authority. Was Lourd being sexist? Well, if Sparks believes he was, intent is beside the point, as it is her right to take offense if she feels that calling Sara Duterte "Tunay Na Lalake" is being sexist. But to say everyone should see it as such? It doesn't follow. What I saw all throughout was a humorous approach to ridicule the usage of violence, and that by invoking the TNL culture, Lourd merely framed it within his character, which has always been equal-opportunity when it comes to doling out TNL labels. This is not the first time the TNL label has been attached to a woman. Jamby Madrigal would know.
Ultimately, Sparks and I are in agreement that Mayor Duterte must face the consequences for her actions, albeit anyone knows that she will, at most, receive a slap on the wrist for this incident. What I am wary of, though, is to dismiss most of the critique against Sara Duterte as merely a case of sexism.
And before anyone tries to use the fact that Erap punched an anti-demolition demonstrator himself, the fact that he was defending himself certainly shows how Mayor Duterte's specific set of circumstances are unprecedented, due to two things: first, she was doing this directly for the benefit of her constituents. Second, she did this without first resorting to diplomacy, as she came in with fists at the ready. If Erap attacked without provocation, you can be sure there would've been a witch hunt for him that would have far eclipsed any criticism Mayor Duterte faced. Yeah, I said it: Mayor Duterte actually got off easy, and I will not be coy about it and outright say that her gender was a factor, in the public eye. Even legally, she probably will get off easy, too.
The fear is, if we just let Sara Duterte slide, given these specific circumstances, any other politician can easily cite her case as precedent when they resort to violence "for the sake of their constituents."
We can say all we want that won't happen, but when blatantly wrong things already get a pass just because of hero worship (Unless Big Time Willie is totally nothing like Willing Willie. Yeah, right), then it's very reasonable to assume something slightly in a gray area would easily be allowed to pass.
We can't enforce double standards. Making exceptions to legal matters despite clear applicability would make it awkward for future offenders to not get the same treatment, completely undermining the point of the law.
After all, when nobody seems to have a problem with this...
She spins you right round, baby right round.
So only guys are allowed eye candy now?
.:Speaking Of Vicki Belo...:.
Oh, the possibilities!
Whether it was called PussyKip, SiKeps, Vagi-Tite, Vag-Neto, VaJaylBreak, Happy Tite, Pwede Na Ulit Si Lola, or whatever else, there was a ton of lulz to be had for the entire duration of the "contest", which she suddenly validated by giving out a prize of 5,000 in Belo products to the top three winners, albeit you had to follow the Belo Beauty Twitter account as well as like their Facebook fanpage.
At the end of the promo, the good doctor named the three winners: Vagnet, V-Tight, and LAV, for L(ike) A V(irgin). Congratulations to the winners! Heh.
I never thought I'd see the day, but Vicki Belo totally made my day. This was entertaining, tongue-in-cheek, and creative!