We got a bunch of inaniloquence up here

Ben Kritz



The Manila Times



IF having your news feed choked by a large volume of stupid is your thing, it was an interesting weekend to be in Manila. The mental tone of the current atmosphere was spectacularly illustrated by the first and most amusing attention-grabber, the 26-story tall electronic billboard on the side of the GA Tower along EDSA that briefly displayed a Happy “Birth Day” (two words) greeting to Imelda Marcos on the occasion of her “93th” birthday. Copy editing is important, people. Look into it. The billboard was only briefly displayed because, first of all, it was apparent even to the ad agency responsible for it that it looked like it had been written by an imbecile; and second, the producer of the movie from which Madame Marcos’ regal image had been lifted made a copyright violation complaint. The public attention the embarrassing display attracted should have been used as an opportunity to highlight other troubling issues with the medium used, but unfortunately, no one picked up on it. As funny as “93th” was, it really wasn’t the actual problem; for now, however, it’s a topic we’ll have to set aside for later. k k k The second instance of ignorance on display came in the form of some ill-considered comments from actress Ella Cruz, who has a role in an upcoming movie about the Marcos family. In an interview, Ms. Cruz was quoted as saying, “History is like tsismis. It is filtered and dagdag na rin, so, hindi natin alam what is the real history. Andoon na iyong idea, pero may mga bias talaga. As long as we’re here alive at may kanya-kanyang opinion, I respect everyone’s opinion (History is like gossip. It is filtered and added to, so we don’t know what the real history is. The idea is there, but there are biases. As long as we’re here alive and we have our own opinions, I respect everyone’s opinion).” My feeling is the same as one Twitter poster who said, “I envy yesterday’s me, when I had no idea who Ella Cruz is, or that she even existed.” But, as she opened her mouth and made a statement that was specifically intended to be as public as possible — the interview was for the purpose of promoting the upcoming movie — she walked onto the firing range herself, and gave everyone a target that was not only irresistible to take a shot at, but obligatory. No, history is not at all “like tsismis.” As we humans are immutably hardwired to experience time in a linear, unidirectional manner, what happened in the past is a matter of fact. The causes, effects, meaning and significance of those facts are subject to interpretation, but any argument in favor of one interpretation or another has to be based on the same set of facts. Many online critics pointed this out, of course, with varying degrees of rancor directed at the young actress, while others defended her as “a victim of disinformation” who was “probably just repeating what she read online or what people around her were talking about.” As far as I know, Ella Cruz is a functioning adult with an adequate education, and apparently is also the child of a local politician. The criticism directed at her was entirely deserved because she was actively, and perhaps knowingly, being a source of disinformation herself in the interview. Sources of disinformation should be exposed and strenuously refuted, and being a “victim of disinformation” is a most facetious defense. Victims of disinformation are those who hurt themselves as a result of it; once they rebroadcast it, however, they are no longer victims but part of the problem. k k k Finally, probably the most dangerous exercise of inaniloquence came in the form of the response by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) to the statement made by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. during his inaugural address that there should be “equal emphasis and facility in global language which we had and lost,” meaning, maintain and expand on the use of English as the primary medium of instruction in Philippine schools. ACT doesn’t like this idea. In a statement, ACT chairman Vladimer Quetua said, “While the neoliberal metrics of international assessments like the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) are questionable, [the] language barrier is a basic reason why the Philippines lags behind, and our students are at a disadvantage in these tests.” He went on to explain that retaining English as the main medium of instruction is “a big impediment to student learning because they have to master the