Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Problem With Kris

Kaloka and kawindang-windang (to borrow gay lingo) is how I would describe Kris Aquino's latest headline-grabbing and head-turning (nakaka-windang nga!) caper.

It's all over the news that Miss Krissy has filed a temporary protection order (TPO) against former husband James Yap Wednesday last week. According to Kris, the once-apple-of-her-eyes Yap made "overt sexual advances" towards her in front of their son Bimby. Unlike in the hard court, cager Yap didn't score with his former wife apparently. In his defense, Yap tearfully told the media (in between sniffs) that Kris' version was untrue, that he just wanted to assure their son that there's no enmity between them, and that Krissy overreacted. He also revealed that Kris threatened him with her brother's position - her brother is, of course, President Benigno Aquino III.

I think it was two days after the request for TPO that I saw Kris together with her three sisters being interviewed by Ted Failon. And my reaction was "Are they all loons?!" Makisawsaw ba naman sa alitan on national TV, e, samantalang ang dapat i-advise at suportahan nila ay si PNoy on crucial issues besetting the country. I mean they can lend their support behind the cam - the Aquino name has been dragged into controversies by their little sister that mostly relate to her romantic and prurient interests. 

As expected from this kind of controversy, wherein both parties involved are popular public figures, there's going to be a long word war thus the recent issuance of the gag order by the court. Of course, we don't  know who's telling the truth - this is a classic example of the "he said/she said" argument -  but I tend to symphatise with anyone that is on the opposing side of Kris. There's always this observation that Kris creates two clashing views among us Filipinos, that's more divisive and wider than the earth-changing continental drift. With Kris, you either totally love her or totally hate her. I belong to the latter group because the problem with Kris is that:

-- she does not know when to shut up. Kris is just like the 7-Eleven convenience store - her mouth is open 24 hours a day. Every time I  chance upon her shows, she has opinions on everything that she rarely gives her guests the chance to talk. Miss Krissy tends to manipulate her shows with her gift of gab. Obviously, "no dead air" is her mantra.

-- she washes dirty linens in public often. She readily reveals on national TV even the most sordid details of her life. Remember the STD controversy involving actor Joey Marquez, one of her high-profile love affairs? Some would admire her for being vocal and open. Well, I don't. Fact is, I don't consider her very vocal at all but vulgar.  There are things that are better left unsaid to let the public mull over some issues and speculate - a woman should keep her mystery.

-- she's a captcha. I mean, despite Kris' "openness" about her personal life I can't help but wonder if I'm reading her right. In most of her confessions, she projects herself as the victim but the last scene always shows her former lovers kissing dirt.

-- she calls her son Bimby. For crying out loud, I wouldn't name one of my dogs "Bimby". At his age right now, Bimby can tolerate the pet name but he won't find it endearing once he reaches maturity.

-- she uses Blackberry as a verb. "I'll just Blackberry you," she said to someone when she was still with The Buzz.

-- she's too burgis. In one of her commercials with her son Bimby, there's the unmistakable yaya figure in the the background. Flaunting wealth seems to be the hobby of some; however, some are more vulgar than others. On many occasions, I see these people in public places (especially in malls) who got yayas in tow, garbed in their uncomfortable uniforms running after kids suffering post-tantrums. The setup is too medieval and very degrading to household help. Serfdom is a thing of the past, ano ba kayo?! 

--  she can't act but acts as if she does. Self-explanatory.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What Went Wrong At Lahad Datu

Here's my twopence view on what's transpiring at Lahad Datu in Sabah.

The fundamental premise of diplomacy rests on this statement: Let's sit down and talk. It is how you handle volatile situations. And no situation is more volatile than that which involves guns and gold, and no example is more apt to such situation than what's unfolding at Lahad Datu - here are some hundred men with guns and they're after the goldmine that is Sabah. Let's not talk about who has the historical and legal claim of that disputed island; let's just talk about the diplomatic and policy blunders which eventually led to this tragedy.

In my opinion, the Kirams and their supporters wanted an audience to hear them out. Several attempts have been made to get the attention of MalacaƱang as well as the government of Malaysia (with then PM Mahathir) in a span of several decades according to some reports. Perhaps the most infamous of these was during the Marcos regime in 1967 which ended to what is referred now as the Jabidah Massacre. The more recent one was in 2010 with  Sultan Kiram claiming he has sent a letter to MalacaƱang to ask President Aquino to listen to his case. I believed the Sultan has indeed sent that letter to Aquino judging by how PNoy had uncomfortably answered when asked about that letter by reporters. PNoy said the letter must have gotten lost in the bureaucratic bullshit, er, system. That's a major mistake for anyone's political career. Losing documents, especially letters containing sensitive issues, bespeaks of incompetence (less pogi points for PNoy there definitely). Also, failure to act on sensitive issues shows that you're not a proactive leader, which means sooner than later something's gonna blow up in your face. And the Sabah Standoff did blow up alright.

Map courtesy of Wikipedia

In the aftermath of the initial gunfight at Lahad Datu, there was confusion. Conflicting reports about the number of casualties, who fired the first shot, etc. and this is because of our government's failure to send emissaries at  Lahad Datu to negotiate or at least to coordinate with the Malaysian authorities. On that fateful March 1 skirmish, Malaysia's Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein tweeted: "I confirm that our security forces have not taken a single shot but were shot at at 10 am." We have no way to verify his statement because members of the international media are not allowed in the area. In fact, even Malaysian news organizations are affected by the censorship of their own government. 

To those who died (and continue dying) from this unfortunate incident we readily offer our condolences to both sides of the conflict. But, it seems, President PNoy failed to convey sympathies to the fallen followers of the Sultanate of Sulu. Some people tweeted that the latest statement emanating from Malacanang right after the March 1 encounter lacked empathy for the Filipino belligerents and their families:

"To our citizens in Lahad Datu, from the very start our objective has been to avoid the loss of lives and the shedding of blood. However, you did not join us in this objective. Because of the path you have taken, what we have been trying to avoid has come to pass. If you have grievances, the path you chose was wrong. The just, and indeed, the only correct thing for you to do is to surrender.To those who have influence and the capacity to reason with those in Lahad Datu, I ask you to convey this message: surrender now, without conditions."

And many questioned President PNoy's priority. Because as the siege was underway in Lahad Datu he was in Pampanga rallying and campaigning for his party members. But I guess that's much better than getting caught playing computer games, which he has fond of doing if the rumors are to be believed.

The president has also said that the Kiram group committed an unconstitutional act and therefore may face arrest when they return to the Philippines. Such statement is what fueled further the emotions of the Kiram group, and they have gained sympathizers not only from the Muslims in the Philippines but also from the non-Muslim populace. Really, Filipinos just love the underdog. A few of us are thinking that if our government can negotiate with countries and offer pleas for the life of OFWs convicted of crimes - from murder to drug trafficking - then it can certainly do the same to other wayward sons like Kiram who is in desperate need of financial succor due to health issues. Plus, it's not easy for Kiram to be labeled as a king without a kingdom. Perhaps if Malaysia can raise its rent to say Php7M instead of the paltry Php70,000 it is currently paying the sultanate annually then maybe Kiram et al could be appeased. Just saying.

Sultan Jamalul Kiram III

I'm not saying the Sultan's clan and followers are in the right - what they are doing is both audacious and stupid for there's a proper time and a proper forum for their agenda. As there is a proper time and proper forum for President PNoy to castigate the Kiram group. As what the famed funny man Will Rogers said "diplomacy is the art of saying "Nice doggie" until you can find a rock". Our dear president should have calmed the waters between the two islands then throw the net.  

Now, the tension and the death toll rise as the belligerent group refuses to wave the white flag. The latest but limited reports there are saying that there have been a  fierce firefight which started early this morning. This incident and its spillovers could affect the thousands of Filipinos who presently live and work in Sabah, with the first exodus numbering to about 50 families arriving from Sabah to Tawi-Tawi today.  And certainly it could derail our government's initiative in seeking peace in Mindanao and undermine (at the very least) the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement, a trophy which the Aquino administration has been toting since its signing last year. Incidentally, Malaysia brokered the agreement in its capital Kuala Lumpur in October 2012. 

Here's food for thought for President Aquino and his advisers, something all of the president's men to mull over: The Jabidah Massacre is largely believed to be the cause of the widespread insurgency movements of Muslims in Southern Philippines in late 1960's and the subsequent formation of the Moro National Liberation Front and Nur Misuari's Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Some Malaysians think, however, that Mahathir played a role by fueling the discontent and funneling arms to the movement. His intent? To distract Filipino Muslims from pursuing their claim on Sabah. The cunning former prime minister achieved his goal as we busied ourselves with infighting and forgot about our interests abroad.

And  here's an omen for bad things to come. Nakisawsaw na rin si Norberto Gonzales and Nur Misuari sa isyu. Expect this to be more politicized and dramatized  and ominous for the Aquino government.