PUBLIC officials do things in this country that may look dirty but are actually innocent or may look mean and are actually mean. Consider:
 Laguna Gov. Ramil Hernandez announced a gift-giving program on Facebook and on tarp streamers in his province: “GIFT-GIVING CUM FEEDING...” That drew a mix of flak and snickers from people who know “cum” as obscene.
 House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez scrapped a number of public works projects from the 2018 General Appropriations Act, branding as “undesirable” the 24 House members for whose districts they were identified. Reaction ranged from “that’s life, they got what they deserve” to “public money is used to silence the opposition and punish the people.”
One is an exercise in language. The other is flexing political muscle.
Critics of Governor Hernandez’s message must know syntax to see the obscenity and/or humor in it. Being naughty here requires linguistic knowledge.
Without a comma after “gift-giving” and “cum feeding” not hyphenated, the word “cum” cannot be the vulgar slang for semen or “what men ejaculate during sexual encounters.” The word “cum” as a preposition in the governor’s line means “comes with,” “together with,” or “combined with.” Nothing wrong with “GIFT-GIVING CUM FEEDING” unless one reads it as “GIFT-GIVING, CUM-FEEDING.”
“Cum” as a noun is “very obscene” and “inappropriate.” With the dirty spin some people give his message, the governor may find it tough to say with a straight face, “Come now, nothing wrong with our ‘cum.’”
Pro and con
Those who cheer or accept Speaker Alvarez’s decision to scrap projects for districts of 24 “undesirable” House members are die-hard “partidistas” or jaded political watchers who see an administration bent on using all weapons in its arsenal.
Arguments for it are trite but somehow valid: It’s done by any administration. Reward allies, punish enemies, Carrot and stick. Feed the hand that helps, bite the hand that strikes. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
On the other bank, counter-arguments are compelling too: It’s public money, not just the administration’s. Dissenting voice is essential to democracy; silence critics and the mistakes and abuses will go unchecked. It’s the people who’re ultimately severely punished, more than the lawmakers representing them.
Things may not be always what they seem. Governor Hernandez’s “cum feeding” message is not about any sexual session. That meaning is pushed by people who squeeze humor out of a simple gaffe or by critics who want to downplay the governor’s political gain.
Or things may be what they appear, or the portent of worse to come. Speaker Alvarez says “it’s life.” And some can make life more hellish than others can.