Seares: Mocha Uson’s gaffe and ‘42 virgins’

MOCHA Uson, asst. secretary at the Presidential Communication Operation Office (PCOO), is getting a lot of ribbing over her mistake in placing the location of Mayon Volcano at Naga, Camarines Sur, instead of Legazpi City, Albay.

The volcano, which has been acting up (alert level four) for several days now, is far from Naga: 87.9 kms. (2 hrs. 5 mins. by Pan-PH highway) and 116.7 kms. (3 hrs. 2 mins. via Bicol). That’s a lot of kilometers away. Netizens joked that Uson must be some Wonder Woman with the power to move mountains and volcanoes. A cartoon that Facebook took down had Mayon, seeing the Naga City signboard, Naga, asking, “OMG, nasaan ako?”

‘Little mistake’

It was a “little mistake,” Uson said. But as a famous/infamous personality, she must expect strict scrutiny from fans and critics alike. The price of being a celebrity and, more, being in government.

Still struggling with the fallout from her controversial award from the University of Sto. Tomas alumni group, Uson fell face down into the mud pool of criticism over the lapse in basic geography.

72, not 42, virgins

She could’ve, but understandably didn’t, cite the mistake of her boss President Duterte who in Delhi, India last Jan. 26 joked about luring tourists to the Philippines with “42 virgins.”

Without taking up the political correctness of a president kidding to business leaders about sexual attraction of his country, just focus on the number.

It’s 72, not 42. That’s 30 virgins short of what ISIS terrorists reportedly lured “martyrs” with: the promise of heaven with those virgins. Which some scholars insist is a myth and not found in the Quran, only in Traditions, and is not about virgins but wives.

Trump too

Duterte at times slips in giving numbers and other facts but not as often, or as disastrously, as US President Trump whose mistakes (as distinguished from his lies and misleading statements) include:

-- His initial tweet the day after Jan. 20, 2017 when he took his oath: “I am honered *sic) to serve you, the great American people, as your 45th president”;
-- Accusing Obama of having gone “to tapp” (sic) his phones in March, days later he wrote that “hearby” (sic) he condemned the spying.
-- Addressing the governor of the US territory as “president of Virgin Islands, he also talked of deporting undesirables from Puerto Rico whose people are American citizens.

Spotlight’s glare

But here’s the thing: Being up there, in the glare of light, public persons--from the president to Cabinet secretaries or “asecs”--are not spared from glare of spotlight, especially when they commit a gaffe.

True, there are other bigger issues, such as, Uson said, the lethal vaccine scandal or the disaster in Naga, er, Legaspi. Yet interesting trivia involving public figures always fascinate.

You know how she could’ve reacted instead? With bit of humor, she could’ve blamed (1) the critics’ snarky remarks about her virtues not being remotely Thomasian and (2) association of the word “Mayon” with “disaster, Vice President Leni Robredo, and Naga” (Leni’s hometown).

Reference to Duterte’s “42 virgins” would’ve been more distracting--if she were only not a getting a regular pay-slip from the government.
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