BACOLOD

Abellanosa: Cheering for Tatay

Fringes and frontiers

IN WHAT has been described as “energetic” and “apparently woke” a cheer dance presentation by a group of students from University of the Philippines-Visayas has been bashed and criticized. Rabid comments are all over social media, especially coming from the supporters of Tatay Digong.

Based on reports: the “University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) Skimmers performed and won in their school’s annual cheering competition on Wednesday.” Their presentation included what we may call “not so new criticisms” of also “not so new” issues and government policies. Identified among other issues are the (planned) revival of mandatory Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC), Rice Tarrification Law, and the removal of Filipino from mandatory subjects in tertiary education.

What caught the attention, however, especially of Tatay Digong’s supporters, and what irked them as well was the line: “let’s kill this president... Joke!” It wasn’t a joke for those who believe that students who are subsidized by people’s taxes should not criticize the government. Suddenly, some netizens have become philosophers of education. Arguing here and there what education should be, they considered the students’ cheer as seditious and uncivilized.

Some have accused the students of hiding behind the concept of art. Those who find the message not so pleasing to their ears dismiss such an argument. They’d not even accept democratic principles as a sound basis for at least understanding the context of the presentation.

I personally would not want to go as far as theorizing nor delving into whatever theory behind the presentation. All I would like all readers to at least recall are some words worth quoting from past publications, and here they are:

(1) “If I make it to the presidential palace I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, holdup men, and do-nothings, you better get out because I’ll kill you.” (2) “These sons of whores are destroying our children. I warn you, don’t go into that, even if you’re a policeman, because I will really kill you.” (3) “Bishop, kapag magpabili ka ng droga paputulan kita ng ulo.”

Do we need to know who said the lines quoted above?

If our concern and, precisely, our main concern is the impropriety of the presentation whether it was indeed artistic or not, then we might as well go back to the main issue of how much “killing” and “murder” have become so banal. The phenomenon is deeply rooted in how we have relativized “killing” making it good or evil depending on who gives the order and according to our political alignments. Why are we so sensitive to the word “killing” when in fact we have been cheering and giving standing ovations to speeches that not only promote but justify it?

Is murder good? Apparently, no! You don’t need to have graduate studies in philosophy, political science, or religion to know that. Is it okay to say “I’d kill you” even if it is said in an artistic manner? Hmmmm... shall we now say it depends on your political party?

If you ask me though, “saying so” in a way that has a touch of style and art is much better and more acceptable than saying it behind the podium that has the official seal of the president of the Republic of the Philippines.


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