Wise Guys Vs. Wise Men

  By Oliver Geronilla


Times have indeed changed! Gone were the days when rumor-mongering, yellow journalism, and character assassination were confined to the walls of beauty salons, roadside eateries, and other similar places where rancor and candor filled the bucolic air of yore. Now you can see people from different walks of life—fishwives, henpecked husbands, bums, government and non-government workers–doing it anytime, anywhere.

Welcome to the world of the The Chatterbox!

Expect this so-called national “pastime” to go several notches higher as more and more issues–both real and concocted– surface out in time for the local and national elections. Certainly, we’ll all be tickled pink with how political parties try to outsmart each other. This is the perfect time to spot the differences between wise guys and wise men as they engage themselves in this seasonal battle of wits and dough.

And so, this early, we find people in Bulan talking about “culture” in juxtaposition with “corruption” to peddle things and ideas with all the feigned glitter and pomp of the cognoscenti. Not surprisingly, many people are tempted to buy their “merchandise” either attractively wrapped in legalese or painstakingly presented in pathos-laden dialectics. The result: mushrooming of ideas that are meant to condition the mind which of course can eventually lead to a warped weltanschauung.

Bulaneno, who remains incognito– at least to me and to other Bulan netizens– sparked my interest to examine his shrewd ways of achieving three things: getting “feedback” from the local chief executive, winning the people’s heart and sympathy, and of course creating ripples.

Making and maintaining a blog solely for the purpose of showing those purported hard facts did not– in any manner– explicitly malign anyone nor did it put things in proper perspective. In fact, Bulaneno has left things hanging and open creating reactions that are poles apart: suspicion from the sitting chief executive including his phalanx of supporters and perhaps adulation from the other side of the fence.

It would have been better if he presented what he believed to be the crux of the matter as an integral part of his blog, not as a separate opinion piece written as a rejoinder to the Municipal PIO’s commentary. But if his only purpose was just to inform the people of Bulan about these alleged shenanigans, then he failed quite miserably. All he got was a “commentary” from the Municipal PIO and some comments from a very small group of Bulan netizens- a number too minuscule to warrant change. After all, how many households in Bulan are wired?

It’s impossible for Bulaneno not to know that only a few could read his blog; and mostly, these people already have their own beliefs and principles that are hard to change.

With that in mind, I also wonder what prompted Mr. Gilana to waste his time reacting to a mere compendium of data. Things should have been taken at face value. But perhaps the urge to protect the image of the administration from being tarnished made him write a commentary followed by a riposte.

The Municipal PIO’s decision to respond to that blog–through a commentary– was quite understandable, but the ensuing write-ups from both sides turned things askew.

So came the awful use of terms and the scathing retorts made somewhat comical by the insertion of irrelevant facts and/or red herring which did not escape the eyes of Ms. Mila Asuncion and other Bulan Observers.

Libelous  remarks were obviously sugarcoated so as to avoid legal sanctions, but the allusions were crystal clear. Had it not been for the skillful use of language, how do you think would Mr. Gilana refer to that person who “pocketed a measly amount of P2, 000?” And how would Bulaneno rephrase the title of his article and perhaps rehash his concluding sentences?

These, to me, are what the culture vultures call the edification of what’s obviously not edifying.

Well, to say that “corruption exists in Bulan” is not downright wrong. We’re not born yesterday to believe that no one is corrupt in our hometown. In fact, it’s easier to understand and believe that “there is some sort of corruption in Bulan” than to totally deny it.

Perhaps, the problem, which is further compounded by our myopic views, rests on how we define corruption vis-a-vis culture. Jun Asuncion hit the right note when he dropped the word “culture” to refer to the problem of corruption that allegedly haunts the local government of Bulan. Yes, Jun, you’re right…. that’s “The Issue of Corruption, and not The Culture of Corruption.” And most, if not all, issues can be addressed given the right frame of mind and the drive to do it.

Let’s all be reminded that when engaging in a public discourse, there’s a need to be politically correct. This should be coupled with a holistic understanding of the issue at hand, pragmatic competence, and an honest and relevant presentation of facts so as not to mislead people from the real nub of the issue.

So, I ask: What’s the real score? Is it really about those whom we accuse of committing graft and corruption? Or is it about “the subculture” that nurtures and allows it to prosper?

Makes me wonder.     //


3 thoughts on “Wise Guys Vs. Wise Men

  1. Corrigendum:

    Paragraph 12, first word of the first sentence….

    LIBELOUS is the right word, not SLANDEROUS.

    Mea culpa.

    Oliver Geronilla

      • Mea Culpa- my own fault- is the main element that’s missing in Philippine politics. It’s the lack of introspective quality, not of education or religion, that nurtures corruption in many of our public and private institutions. That’s why we remain in the pit- and for Transparency International this pit means for the Philippines ranking 139th- with New Zealand being perceived as the least corrupt country, hence 1st in ranking and with Somalia as the most corrupt country ranking the last or 180th- in the 2009 Corruption Perceptoin Index CPI (primarily based on experts’ opinion), a worldwide survey conducted yearly by Transparency International- which is being supplemented by the results of another survey method called the Global Corruption Barometer GCB which is based on ordinary peoples’ experiences and reports on bribery and corruption. Generally there exists a high correlation between the experts’ perception and the public’s perception.

        Transparency and “Mea culpa” or Accountability are actual issues also in Bulan, not only in Pakistan or Somalia. Is Bulan prepared to be transparent and accountable? The COA’s Reports are things that occupy the thinking of many “Bulaneños” at the moment.

        Now, since the last few days one has no more access to the bulan.com.ph (or has Bulan transformed itself to a travel agency offering worldwide hotel accomodations to tourists?).

        This makes many suspect that our LGU’s experiment with transparency and accountability had failed for failure to communicate wisely with its intelligent and inquiring population, a population nurtured in culture of honesty. But perhaps the LGU- Bulan is just preparing for the coming “election”, so transparency and accountablity are not really important issues at the moment.

        Interesting to know that both surveys mentioned above have revealed that there is a high willingness on the part of the people or consumers to buy products from a corruption-free company even if they had to pay slightly more. From this we could deduce that people would be willing- even if they didn’t receive cash or any incentive- to elect or re-elect a corruption-free politician or government.

        Fazit: It pays off for a company, politician or government to engage in corruption-free business or political practices.

        Going back to the word pit, it is defined as “a natural or artificial hole or cavity in the ground” in any dictionary.

        We now hope that we don’t have plenty of such cavities- especially artificial or cultured ones- in the grounds of Bulan.

        It pays off for long-term growth to fill up such cavities in the grounds of Bulan.

        For a Pit-free Bulan!

        jun asuncion

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