Much ado – Manila Standard


Through the whole of last week, three issues were given much ado by media and the public.

First, the case of the “missing” President.

Media wondered why President Duterte was not present at the Luneta for the flag-raising on Independence Day.  And because he did not appear in public either in the succeeding days, speculation was rife that he was possibly “ill.”

Media reports even resuscitated his own admission during the campaign about Buerger’s disease and his back problem, among others. 

The guy is human, just like you and me, and at 72, he’s no spring chicken obviously.  So if he takes a rest, as Malacañang officially said, whatever is so unusual about a man of his age taking a rest?

Apart from the daily activities in a period of crisis such as containing the protracted battles in Marawi between our peacekeepers and the terrorists holed up in their urban jungle, the presidency is such a stressful job.  And stress is more health-draining than mere physical exertion.

It pains the President that he has to order soldiers of the Republic to aim their firepower at our Muslim brothers, misled, misguided and enticed to terroristic activities though they have been by those IS predators.

Why can’t we just let go?  Why the need to speculate and raise public alarums over a simple case of a man needing to rest, to relax, to meditate, to contemplate?  All these are part of a president’s regimen.

Speaking of which, the President might do well to take breaks and hie off to some hideaways every now and then.  Not to the all-too-familiar Davao where he is hounded by job- and favor-seekers, but to some island paradise in Palawan or some deserted beach in the Visayas, even a mountain aerie in the Cordilleras.

US presidents have their Camp David, and their Donald now favors his own Mar-a-Lago.  Why not the Philippine President?

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Then there is the “unli” rice incident sparked off by an observation from Sen. Cynthia Villar about us being too heavy on rice intake, which, as every doctor will attest, is bad for diabetics.  Filipinos, because of lifestyle and diet, are extremely prone to diabetes as well as to kidney problems.

Everyone and his mother immediately jumped on the senator’s observation and defended the Filipino penchant to gorge on “unli” rice, unfairly damning the Senate Agriculture committee chairperson, when what she said was the plain truth.

Look at the numbers:  The average Filipino, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics in 2010, consumes 132 kilos of rice a year.  These days, I read that the Philippine Statistics Authority, to which the BAS has been subsumed, uses a lower figure—120 kilos.

If that lower per-capita consumption is the reason why we are supposedly importing less rice this year, isn’t that reason to rejoice?  The Japanese consume only 67 kilos of rice a year, even if their short-grain rice infinitely tastes better than what we have available in our stores.

Senator Villar makes infinitely good sense advocating lower rice consumption.  And if we were to eat regularly-milled rice (brown rice to the layman) instead of the polished well-milled white variety, we would not need to import the staple at all.  And Filipinos would be healthier for it.

When a kilo of palay is milled into white rice, the yield is just 600 to 650 grams of rice.  When it is turned into brown rice, the yield is 800 grams.  See what good and healthy eating habits can do, not only for one’s health, but for the national interest as well?

But Senator Villar advocates something more important:  Eating more vegetables.  The challenge is addressed to the Department of Agriculture.  Get farmers to plant more veggies and aid them so that they can harvest better in yield and variety.  That will bring down the price of vegetables.

It is also a challenge to the Department of Education and the Department of Health.  Educate our children to eat green, leafy vegetables so that they grow up to be healthy, and discourage them from eating those execrable hotdogs and junk food, and teach them as well not, never, to drink sugared soda.

This is bad for those in the business of producing these unhealthy types of food, but good for the health of our people.

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Yet another brouhaha last week was the Tourism Department’s commercial to sell the Philippines as a tourist destination.

But for the tagline, the Experience the Philippines ad featuring a blind Japanese retiree was pretty nice.  Then again, it was “exposed” as having been “plagiarized” from a 2016 South African ad.  Our tourism officials recoiled, then recalled the ad, and further, cancelled their contract with the reputable McCann Worldwide Group.

 Hey guys, couldn’t it have been a case of parallel creative thoughts from one and the other side of the globe?  In this day and age where ideas are quick and easy, and everything is globalized, the probability of parallel minds is quite high.  If the ad was good, and I think it was, then defend it from the usual carpers and naysayers.

As they say, when you think you are right, “damn the torpedoes and go full steam ahead.”

* * *

Speaking of creativity, this quality is second nature to many Filipinos.  Reacting to the alleged case of plagiarism, some advertising professionals posted on their website, (@CreativesOfMNL)  their own beautiful, beautiful creation with sweeping vistas of the country’s scenery, admitting at the beginning that the Philippines is beset from time to time with problems.  But in the end, the ad copy said, and ingeniously so:  “Sometimes it’s hard to fall in love with the Philippines.  But most of the time, it’s harder not to.”

 And then in the final cut:  “It’s more fun in the Philippines.”

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This article sees print on June 19, the birthday of Jose P. Rizal, the national hero.

Question:  Why do we commemorate Rizal on the day of his death, and not on his birthday?

Why are we so obsessed with deaths and defeats, rather than births and triumphs?  Rizal on the date of his martyrdom; the Fall of Bataan; even Ninoy Aquino on August 21, rather than his birth on November 27?

This is some food for thought for us, citizens of a land from where continued good fortune seems to shy away.

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