Short takes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 8, 2013 – 12:00am

I will not write today about one central topic. Too many things have been happening lately that beg some commentary. Today I would like to share my takes on the news that people have been talking about. I am far from being an expert on political commentary. And I hardly ever really write about showbiz. My only justification (or excuse) to write about these things is that I, like the rest of you, enjoy freedom of speech, which I am exercising today. My caveats have been stated clearly. I hope I don’t abuse you too much, dear readers.

On the privilege speeches in the senate

All this started about three weeks ago when Miriam called JPE many things the day Janet Napoles was summoned to the senate. She called him the PDAF mastermind, and said he had bodyguards with long arms inside the senate accompanying him even when he uses the restroom, among other things.

Last week, JPE retaliated by accusing Miriam of being literally crazy, insane and out of her mind. He also accused her of having been an abusive official when she held previous posts in government. And he belittled her not-so-stellar law bar exams scores, suggesting she is all hype and bluster but not brilliant at all.

Miriam a few days ago counterpunched by accusing JPE of being an illegal logger, a corrupt person, murderer, liar, psychopathic hypersexualized serial womanizer, the prince of darkness, gambling and smuggling king, and “the drama king of corrupt politics.”

That’s quite a mouthful. The only thing Miriam didn’t accuse the former Senate President of was being lousy at playing Bejeweled on his iPad!

After watching both senators deliver their privilege speeches, allow me to comment on their presentation styles.

Miriam always seems like she is in a high school declamation contest. And her intensity can remind me sometimes of Fuehrer Hitler’s impassioned demeanor when delivering speeches. She comes into the ring swinging a bat. There is no finesse nor politeness here. There is every intention to malign, insult, and cut her opponents down to size. She is about as subtle as a kick in the groin, or a root canal procedure.

She is definitely entertaining and theatrical.

On a side comment, I am just so relieved she never became our president. Surely we would have needed the greatest of diplomats to have to explain what President Miriam means when, say, she calls a foreign leader “fungus face,” for example. It is not hard to imagine something of his sort happening if she had become president. We would have probably ended up in a shooting war with some country.

I have seen JPE do better speeches on other occasions. During his last speech, JPE with his snake-like smile was about as charming and endearing as a jock itch. And I haven’t even talked about his negative points yet.

Perhaps the stigma of PDAF has sucked out the last iota of positivity one can spin about the man.

Seriously, this unfortunate Senate episode is a teachable moment about the kind of senators we should not vote into office. The two speeches will probably be best remembered as moments when the whole nation went on a collective cringe.

No wonder some senators have asked that the speeches be stricken off the Senate records. They are too hair-raising to recall and better treated as unfortunate lapses of sanity and are best erased and forgotten.

On the bar incident

People will forgive celebrities and their sex videos. They will forgive mistakes in grammar and etiquette. They will forgive promiscuity. They will forgive political incorrectness, and a whole lot more.

But there is something quite difficult to just simply drop and forget about Anne Curtis’ alleged drunken remarks. I am talking about the incident in a club when she supposedly slapped John Lloyd Cruz and three others, and uttered, ‘I can buy you, your friends. I can buy this club.’

Whoa! I really don’t know if she REALLY said those things since there are supposedly eyewitnesses on opposite sides who contradict each others’ accounts. And personally, I really do not care who is right, or whether it really even happened or not.

What is riveting about it is the short monologue itself. In truth, it sounds quite ‘Napolesque’, or something coming from a badly scripted local B movie. My daughter Ala, after hearing of the incident, predicted that this monologue will now be THE quotable quote to displace the campy but classic, ‘You are nothing but a second-rate ,trying-hard copycat’ line uttered by Cherie Gil in some old movie.

Drunken behavior by itself does not invite ready condemnation. One can be quiet, pleasant or even charmingly drunk. But then, one can also be an obnoxious, ugly drunk who plays it all out dramatically. I know it’s hard but one must think about what kind of drunk you want to be before drinking in excess. Or is that even possible at all? I do not know. I do not drink.

Despite everything, I credit Anne Curtis for the straightforward apology she sent the very next day to the people she hurt, and to the public a week after when news had been publicized. She admitted her mistake and took full responsibility. The truth is, she did better than two old veteran newscasters who after saying offensive, inaccurate things, recently asked for “understanding” but did not really apologize.

Everyone makes mistakes. As a celebrity, Anne’s is 100,000 times magnified. But just as she has surely learned something from it, I hope the public also learns to understand that Anne is a human being like everyone else.

Perhaps, only richer!

* * *

So now China has claimed practically all the airspace everywhere on this side of the world. And it is demanding that every airplane that crosses its unilaterally claimed territory MUST inform China that it is passing by. Basically, it wants every country and its carrier to bow before it.

When I first heard about the “no-fly” zones, I wasn’t sure if I was grasping its meaning correctly. I do not possess a military mind. If anything, my mind is engaged in mischief and irreverence more than discipline. So the term “no-fly” suggested other things to me.

Did China’s rulers mean there would be “no fly” (langaw) in these areas? If so, will they ban bugs, mosquitos, and all insects as well?

Or did “no-fly” mean China was not allowing the cooking of food by “flying” as they pronounce what we call ‘frying’? Did they mean that you can’t cook “fly lice” or “fried rice” (as we call it) in these restricted areas? Is this all a problem of mispronunciation of ‘Rs’ and ‘Ls’?

Of course, you know I am kidding.

But what is there for a small nation and its people to do against a bully like China except to take humorous, irreverent potshots? As for me, I refuse to bow nor be cowed by their arrogant posturing. Wealth and power have never really impressed me, especially when flaunted like this. China is behaving like an inconsiderate neighbor, the kind who rudely occupies all the parking spaces in the street, including the ones in front of your own house, disrespecting your own right of way.

To China which claims the oldest civilization in the world, this Filipino writer, whose country’s history may not be as ancient but no less noble, simply requests you to please show more civility, and act your age!

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