There was a time when us Filipinos, despite coming from a Third World, relatively poor country, were admired globally because of our values, practices and traditions.
We are known for our hospitality and generosity. We welcome our visitors at our respective houses and give them comfort and convenience while they stay with us.
“Feel at home,” we warmly tell them.
We our known for our magnanimity and humility. We are so humble that others see us, albeit wrongly, as being weak and meek.
Despite the differences in politics and principle, the nation’s leaders and public officials remain polite and decent with each other specially when the country is hosting an event attended by world leaders.
We set aside political bickering for a while and observe basic decorum, protocols and diplomacy. This happened when we hosted the Asia Pacific Economic Forum (APEC) in 2015 when bitter political rivals Jejomar Binay and Mar Roxas were seen together and joined other officials in welcoming then U.S President Barack Obama.
But that was before. That was before Rodrigo Duterte, the primordial promoter of hate and disunity in the country, was elected president.
Incidents during the recently-concluded ASEAN Summit held here in the Philippines affirmed the sad fact that we are losing the basic Filipino values that we inherited from our forefathers.
While we exerted all effort to give the warmest welcome to the leaders of other countries, our own duly-elected vice-president of the country got sidelined from the official events of the summit in utter disrespect not only of Leni Robredo as a person but more importantly of the office that she represents.
On the contrary, former president and now Pampanga district representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was given a more major and active role like hosting a formal dinner for Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and speaking before the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit where she extolled the coming of the Chinese era as the new world leader.
Detained senator Leila de Lima lambasted Duterte and his Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano for favoring Arroyo over Robredo in gross violation of diplomatic protocols. For, indeed, Robredo is the second highest official of the land and the constitutional successor to the president.
De Lima lamented that Duterte is still paying political debts to Arroyo who was instrumental in making him win as president.
“The payback does not seem to end anytime soon, as the former President with a checkered record of corruption, plunder, and – like Duterte – selling off the country to China in graft-ridden deals and lopsided joint exploration schemes in the Spratlys, continues to figure prominently in this administration, even ushered to take the place of the Vice President in clear violation of diplomatic protocols,” De Lima said.
It is the president’s privilege to pay political gratitude to anyone who helped him during the campaign. But he should not do it at the expense of diplomacy, basic courtesy and political correctness.
Robredo said that it was not a big deal. That is expected of her. She is known for acting with grace under pressure, for being elegant despite the shabby, below-the-belt treatment that she is getting from the administration and its rabid followers since day one of being vice-president.
Then there was the embarrassing incident where pro-Duterte blogger and propagandist Sass Sasot, acting in bad taste and with an undeserved sense of self-entitlement, ambushed and confronted British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) senior correspondent Jonathan Head. What was Sasot’s issue with Head and the BBC? Sasot complained why a “very minor blogger” like Jover Lauro aka Pinoy Ako Blog (PAB) was featured and given air time by the BBC instead of her who allegedly has more followers and with a higher social media engagement.
“Can you tell me how is it possible that Jover Laurio, a very minor blogger in the Philippines was featured by the BBC in order to defend herself…but not someone like me whose social media following is way way higher than her, whose Facebook engagement is way way higher than her and who you had even interacted on Facebook?” Sasot demanded.
Sasot’s actuation of literally cornering and harassing a foreign journalist who is here to cover an official international event speaks volume of her inescapable lack of class. Truly, one’s education and social status does not necessarily translate to wisdom and finesse.
And lastly, the unfortunate incident involving actress and former beauty queen Maria Isabel Lopez.
Lopez created a social media storm when she boasted in Instagram how she got away with the horrendous traffic that the rest of us had to endure during the summit. According to Lopez, she removed the divider cones so she could use and pass through the ASEAN lanes reserved for world leaders, diplomats, representatives and other guests of the summit.
Netizens quickly criticized Lopez for her shameless and willful violation of traffic rules.
The saddest part about this is that Lopez single-handedly flaunted to the whole world that we Filipinos cannot follow simple instructions or will violate rules and regulations when it will selfishly redound to our benefit. Worse, obviously clueless of the consequences, Lopez had the gall to announce in social media her foolishness. Foolish and proud of it.
From the official snub of the vice-president, to Sasot’s self-serving rants and bullying tactics and Lopez’ proud moment as a traffic rule violator. What the heck happened to our values as Filipinos? What is happening to our dear motherland?