Who are you?

Cheshire Cat appearing (detail)in the Philippines has the connotation of going beyond one’s rights. Do you know who I am? is known as a statement of having a right to something. Pro-Duterte commenters attacked Lourd de Veyra for his somewhat ironic wish list to the President, saying who is he? Junjun Binay said to security guards in Makati – do you know who I am? Philippine culture is high power distance. An article by a Bikolano (link) name Adrian V. Remodo (could be from Oas, Albay to judge by his family name) expresses very directly what I have felt to be Philippine reality for a long time:

From the philosophy of sadiring tawo flows the dialectics of the ideological dakulang tawo and sadit na tawo: as one is born inangkan nin darakulang tawo or the opposite of it. Dakulang tawo is the family of the wealthy, powerful, the landowner, and the educated; the sadit na tawo is the voiceless, the property-less, the descendant of the tumatawo of the landlords. Tumatawo speaks a lot for us here. The dakulang tawo, having amassed great wealth, plays as the real tawo of the society: she is the self, the sadiri, that has attained an identity in the society; the tumatawo  only who shares in the pagkatawo of the dakulang tawo. The sadit na tawo remains an Other, an ibang tawo, and can only speak of selfhood if she becomes a property (by employment or by other means) of the dakulang tawo.

In Germany, dogs get the family names of their owners on their certificates. The statement that you are only somebody if you have wealth and power, or if you are property of the entitled – WOW. Forget all ideas of human rights for those who aren’t defined as anybody anyway. Reminds me of an old detective story with Father Brown who is English. He asks everybody whether someone was there during the time of a murder. Finally he deduces that it was the postman, as the postman is not really seen as a person in the class society of England of those days – and gets his confession.

When the Beatles did not give a private concert to the Marcoses in 1966 (link), they had the worst experience ever and swore never to return to the Philippines: Moments later, a newspaper arrived with the headline “Beatles Snub President”.  After much ruckus, increasingly worried manager Epstein decided to issue a formal apology over Manila television.  As Brian’s apology was being broadcast on TV, the picture mysteriously went off and dead air was transmitted to the viewing public… the Beatles and their aides were kicked, punched, spit on and yelled at with angry epithets. “We treat you like ordinary passenger! Ordinary passenger!”, the airport personnel unsympathetically informed them.  (Strangely, the Beatles aides were all attacked more furiously than the Beatles themselves- the boys were to remember their hapless chauffeur, Alf, getting kicked, bloodied, and pushed down a flight of stairs.).

We treat you like ORDINARY passenger. Yeah sure. Ordinary people deserve to be treated badly. Something the ordinary people see every day when they go to government offices or banks in the Philippines. Now there is some sort of hierarchy everywhere in the world. Even the United States at first had equality only in theory and black slaves in the Southern States. But defining people as being human (tawo) only by virtue of their being property? Or by their being the supporter of this or that politician? Most religions have an idea of intrinsic human value. Do Filipinos have?

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 30 June 2016


3 thoughts on “Who are you?

  1. http://news.mb.com.ph/2017/09/20/dear-rudy/

    ..Dear Rudy, you and your colleagues do work too hard, pushing yourself to the limit well beyond your point of endurance, such as getting stuck in traffic when you could and should be a cut above the hoi polloi. How admirable of you, that despite the daily grind on EDSA and other streets you continue to work tirelessly for our benefit, without complaining, unlike us bellyachers forever bewailing the lack of roads and an abundance of undisciplined drivers and wayward policemen!

    How can we make you comfortable as you labor and sweat, sine die? How can the citizens you call your constituents be so cruel as to mock you for your brilliant proposal to grant parliamentary immunity to all 297 of you when you are caught violating traffic rules? How shortsighted of us not to realize that you cannot be like us; we are neither popular nor electable; we have neither name recall nor the proper bloodline; we’re not sure we can appear telegenic during a public hearing! All we are good for is to whine about taxes, MRT breakdowns, those seasonal floods that you, fortunately, do not have to experience for a more profound understanding of the human condition.

    Meantime, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, the season of gift-giving. How would you like two lanes of EDSA dedicated solely and exclusively for the use of your cars 24/7 as long as they bear the signature “8” plate (no matter how many cars you own!). We’ll ask MMDA to exempt you from number coding and no-window-hours. If that doesn’t make you smile, we’ll throw in an alarm clock. If our kids can be dragged out of bed at 5:30 a.m. you should be so lucky, that you can set your own time as the masters of your fate…

    (about the initiative to give immunity to Congressmen for traffic violations)

  2. “Who Are You”

    Who are you?
    Who, who, who, who?
    Who are you?
    Who, who, who, who?
    Who are you?
    Who, who, who, who?
    Who are you?
    Who, who, who, who?

    I woke up in a Soho doorway
    A policeman knew my name
    He said “You can go sleep at home tonight
    If you can get up and walk away”

    I staggered back to the underground
    And the breeze blew back my hair
    I remember throwin’ punches around
    And preachin’ from my chair

    Well, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
    I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
    Tell me, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
    ‘Cause I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)

    I took the tube back out of town
    Back to the Rollin’ Pin
    I felt a little like a dying clown
    With a streak of Rin Tin Tin

    I stretched back and I hiccupped
    And looked back on my busy day
    Eleven hours in the Tin Pan
    God, there’s got to be another way

    Who are you?
    Ooh wa ooh wa ooh wa ooh wa …

    Who are you?
    Who, who, who, who?
    Who are you?
    Who, who, who, who?
    Who are you?
    Who, who, who, who?
    Who are you?
    Who, who, who, who?


    I know there’s a place you walked
    Where love falls from the trees
    My heart is like a broken cup
    I only feel right on my knees

    I spit out like a sewer hole
    Yet still recieve your kiss
    How can I measure up to anyone now
    After such a love as this?


  3. “Do you know who I am?”
    “Do you know who my father is?”
    “Who is your boss? I will talk to him!”
    “Anong pricinto ka?”

    Those are heavy intimidating questions from the abusive powerful, well-connected and wealthy that makes a minimum-wage, working-class commoner quiver in their shoes.

    They lose their bearing. They stammer. They lose their English. Mouth goes dry. Lips go pale. They start to sweat. Scratch their head when it is not.

    “Sir, sorry po! Nagkamali lang ko sir!”. Kawawa naman.

    Under Extremist Prsident Duterte, I am hoping this will go away. I am tired of arrogant abusive Filipinos.

    If they say that to Duterte, absolutely he will ask, “WHO ARE YOU?”

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