Thursday, August 30, 2007

Another Malu Fernandez or What??

Nakuha ko ito sa Manila Times site (dated August 30, 2007), Anong masasabi nyo?

By Geronimo L. Sy
Malu Fernandez: Hate ugly Filipinos

Don’t we ever run out of scandals? Lately it has been the fierce and fabulous author Malu Fernandez of People Asia magazine. Allegedly she already resigned from her writing job due to the numerous complaints against her article of June 2007 titled, “From Boracay to Greece!” It is a travel piece recounting her summer spent in the beautiful island of Boracay fighting off insects and protecting her immaculate pedicure from the white sands and then jetting off to Greece to see the goddesses but having to go through ugly Filipinos en route.

What exactly did she write? She said that to save on ticket going to Greece, she bravely took the economy class via Emirates with a stopover in Dubai, only to remember that the latter was the hub for OFWs. She “wanted to slash her wrist at the thought of being trapped in a plane with all of them.” She was tormented in her sleep with “endless yelling of “HOY! Kumusta ka na? At taga saan ka? Domestic helper ka rin ba? I thought I had died and God had sent me to my own private hell.” On the return trip [of course she had to fly back somehow], she “resigned [her]self to being trapped like a sardine in a sardine can with all these OFWs smelling of AXE and Charlie cologne while my Jo Malone evaporated into thin air.”

With these lines, Malu offended our sensibilities, went against political correctness and doomed herself to public condemnation.

Our sensibilities say that to travel for leisure is a privilege and a luxury. Millions of our countrymen brave foreign shores in search of the proverbial three meals a day. Hence to vacation in Bora or, rather and, Greece in one break is something we whisper a prayer for and count our blessings. How can Malu be so ungrateful, we ask not out of envy?

Malu writes for the sosi crowd. For outsiders, sosi means sosyal—a Filipinized word of “social” referring to high society and the rich and/or famous. It is obvious from her article that Malu is part of this class (otherwise she will not be a credible source so essential in sosi magazines). Well, she scrimped on her plane ticket to shop for more accessories and her nose spotted the difference of AXE and Charlie, scents of the masa (masses) and her exquisite Jo Malone. That is how socialites are.

She flaunted political correctness when she dared to be true to herself and called OFWs for who they are: A noisy lot intruding into personal space sacred to others in small places like economy seats. At least she is honest with her thoughts. She could have injected the value of empathy—understanding that it is beyond the OFWs themselves and largely attributable to socio-economic factors like education and professional attainment. She may perhaps have been trying to be cute about it or simply reflected the elite mentality.

She is publicly condemned for pointing out, albeit unintentionally, the stark truth that we are a society of pretenders—of OFWs buying branded goods and perfumes instead of saving up and matronas spending three hours at hair spas and then going to their favorite charity balls, of migrants fighting for survival and public servants swimming in pork barrel, of urban professionals concerned with the next gimmick or new car or exotic vacation and our national budget in perpetual deficit because of low tax base and tax evasion, of mall goers hugging dogs and cats and young children on the streets begging for alms. Damn, we sure deserve what we see and don’t see. Don’t we just hate Malu and hate ourselves the ugly Filipinos. How could we look away?

Malu, you are not alone, come back and write. Let us hate the ugliness of the OFWs in us, enough to do something about it.

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