The events of Monday filled me with disappointment and shame. I became glued to my Twitter feed after sundown, becoming more and more disappointed, angry and incredulous with each 140-character assessment of our media and police’s antics. Yes, I use the word “antics,” because nothing really sums up ludicrous actions like sledgehammering a bus door for 45 minutes, or televising the SWAT team’s movements for the hostage-taker to see, than the same word that is used to describe what clowns do in a circus ring.
I was particularly disturbed by the media’s relentless pursuit of the scoop and how it contributed to the downward spiral of events. I didn’t follow any of the live streams, so I don’t know really how the network I came from handled its coverage; I read a lot of criticism against its rival network, though. I was also horrified at how many members of the news media shrugged off responsibility later on, justifying their actions and claiming to be “just doing their jobs.” It leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth; after all, we are human beings before we are whatever we do for a living, and “professionalism” is not the only thing we can and should exercise in the pursuit of our work.
As a Filipino working overseas, I am a relentless cheerleader for our country, often replying to questions like “Are you from the Philippines?” from foreigners with “Yes! Have you been? You should visit!” I take the pains to send detailed emails full of suggestions and advice to acquaintances who tell me they are considering a visit, and I often tell coworkers about life back home, not just all its absurdities, but all the things I love about it.
Sinisikap kong maging magaling sa trabaho para makilala tayong mga Pinoy bilang magaling, masayahin, mabait at mapagkakatiwalaang mga empleyado at katrabaho. And all it takes is one rotten egg to ruin all the efforts I, and many overseas Filipinos like me, have made.
I went to sleep horrified, angry and disappointed, and hoped that when I woke up the next morning I would have reason to be proud. I did, and even if I was disappointed — if we were all disappointed — I still find many reasons to be proud.
I won’t go all becky on you (these sisters have the market cornered on that!) but I was proud of our girl Venus and thought that she did the best that she could under the circumstances. Her answer doesn’t change the fact that she’s a beautiful woman and a spirited fighter, and gives us much to think about in the way we Filipinos view language, intelligence and class. The decades-old argument about allowing our beauty queens to use their native language resurfaces with new strength, and I hope it’s something the powers-that-be will consider and embrace.
With both of these vastly different events, disappointment has been bitter, and strong. But it has not had, and will never have, the strength to overpower my pride in being Filipino.