Hashtag Annoying

It is really more fun in the Philippines. Especially when it’s election season. And it gets even more fun when there’s a presidential election. Add the fact that the Philippines is considered as “the social media capital of the world,” expect all that fun to go viral quickly.

This week, it was very amusing for me to see presidential candidates Mar Roxas and Jojo Binay reveal a bit of their true selves through social media. Roxas with his “Happy Anniversary” greeting to his “fellow veterans of the Zamboanga siege” on Facebook on September 9 and Binay and the trending tweets with the satirical hashtag BinayBwisitsUPLB after he got roasted during a forum on governance, transparency and social transformation at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños (UPLB) on September 15.

Roxas edited his post and removed the “Happy Anniversary” greeting after getting a lot of negative reactions online. He also issued a statement to clarify what he meant by that post. He said it was meant to recall the siege and a testament to the “determination and resilience” of the people of Zamboanga. “It was in this sense that I greeted our compatriots and comrades. To those who may have taken offense, none was intended,” he said.

I don’t know about you but that did not sound like an apology to me. I believe a heartfelt apology from Roxas was needed because recalling a tragedy, no matter how heroic the response to it might have been, did not merit any greeting, happy or not.  His sense in greeting his “compatriots and comrades” just did not make any sense at all.

First of all, such arrogance of Roxas to call himself a veteran of anything. Let others say that about you, Mr. False Modesty. And second, how tricky and clever of you to seemingly praise the people of Zamboanga and reminding them that you were with them for “all those 21 days” when we know what you are obviously going for — you want us to praise and thank you for doing your job, or what you prefer to call your “sacrifice.” Third, who the heck uses “indelibly” in a sentence these days? Pretentious public servants most likely.

Oh, Mar, when are you going to finally get the point that it is not about you? Can’t you just do your job like any normal person without rubbing it in our faces how great a sacrifice you are making for us?

Meanwhile, Binay keeps saying “it’s not my job.” When asked by UPLB students what he has done about the peace talks, political killings and human rights violations, he reportedly replied in Tagalog: “If I interfere, the police and the defense department will not like it and they will say: ‘That’s not your job.’ Yes, I was with the administration but organizationally, functionally, I have no function there.”

Naturally, snarky commentary and jokes flooded on Twitter. Like this tweet from Ralph Alba (originally in Tagalog): “Parent: Son, clean your room! Son: It’s not my function!” #BinayBwisitsUPLB

Since Binay is so fond of blaming and criticizing “the current administration,” UPLB students pointed out that he is actually still part of this administration. Always going back to his  “I have no function there” argument, he insists: “We should ask the President. I don’t have the authority.”

Gosh, if the Vice-President of the Philippines seems helpless in doing something about our national problems, what then can ordinary Filipino citizens do?  And if the President is the only one with the authority to do anything in this country, does it mean he alone authorized the Mamasapano operations? If we are the boss of the President, shouldn’t he need to seek authority from us, too? And if the Vice-President cannot do anything, shouldn’t we just abolish that post and save money?

And these are the two choices we have for President of our country? The pretentious “all-about-me-and-the-sacrifice-I-do-for-my-ungrateful-compatriots” Roxas and the sneaky “it-is-not-my-function-and-those-allegations-are-not-yet-proven” Binay. Oh, Grace Poe is supposedly announcing her presidential bid soon, too. Then we will have the inexperienced adopted daughter, who may or may not have renounced her Filipino citizenship once upon a time, of the late ex-future President who was allegedly robbed, “not just once, but twice” (to quote that famous outburst of Susan Roces on national television) by the previous administration as another choice.

No, choosing the next president is not more fun in the Philippines. It is annoying.

First appeared on Mindanao Times, September 17, 2015