For the full column click here. I selected some of the choicest lines for your reading pleasure. And by pleasure, I recommend you grab a stout drink before diving in. I’m pretty sure he did as well before writing this.
I like bagoong - salted fish sauce to you out there who are unaware of the food of the poor.
I like bagoong too!
I like caviar, too…
So do I! Hey we have so much in common! I feel like I’m one of the chosen people all of sudden. This is great.
…on those very rare occasions that I am privileged to eat it.
You know what’s really bourgeois? Caviar topped with bagoong, liberally seasoned with the tears of street children. Because we all know the privileged are evil like that.
How I wish caviar were available to more Filipinos - not just to the very rich.
I don’t. Do you know what they do to those poor fish? Now bagoong on the other hand, that should be made available to everyone. Wait, what do you mean it already is?
How many people have know this depth? I have!
And you’re privileged for it, I am sure.
Sure, there is stupidity everywhere, even in the rarefied realm of academe.
But on the whole, the Americans can afford their shallowness, their garbage, even their big-scale corruption.
Damn fatties. I bet their McDonald’s carries a McCaviar too. Us poor downtrodden Filipino can only afford McBagoong.
Am I a Filipino basher? Of course, I am, because there are so many cockroaches in our midst.
Couldn’t agree more…where’s my slipper?
So you out there who were outraged by the truths I flung before you - I said nothing new…
I agree. You really didn’t say anything new. At. All.
Why rage against this tired, old hack who merely confirmed what all of you know?
Because you are tired, old, and a hack (sadly you have become one). And your ideas are the same. Let me say this here and now. Setting aside all the jokes, all the sarcasm, and in the hope that someone out there thinks of themselves in a new way, and a new light.
There is nothing new in what F. Sionil Jose is saying, nothing at all. It is old and hackneyed. It’s a limited worldview that offers little in the way new avenues for seeing ourselves. It’s self-flagellation by any other name, and he admits it even.
The ultimate example of modes of thinking that not only limit who we are as a people, but prevent us from becoming a cohesive people, is on display in this column.
The idea that bagoong is only of the poor. That the wealthy have no idea what bagoong is.
The complete homogenization of the ‘wealthy’ and the assumption that all of them are uncaring members of society.
The idea that the poor of sanctified beings because of their suffering. And as a result the only “real” Filipinos.
This isn’t constructive criticism; it’s a barrage of overly generalized broadsides with little focus or cohesion; even less in the way of finding commonalities that be used to build a foundation for a new and accepting society. He eschews that role of the intellectual, the role of the builder and the light who guides his people towards something new great, in favor of base agitations and childish rhetoric.
There is an inherent flaw in Jose’s thinking, as with all of that ilk. Their philosophies and ideas are reductive and simplistic; they see society delineated along purely rigid class lines. They can only conceive of what it means to be Filipino in such limited and almost infantile ways. This is nothing new with Frankie; it’s always been the fatal flaw in his literary works. The poor person is always good, undone by social constraints; incapable of doing anything but suffer and die wretchedly. And the rich is always bad, using their position of power to exploit and destroy; heedless of their social responsibilities. How…sad.
The saddest part is he cites Rizal, Mabini, and Jose Abad Santos. In other words, a wealth mestizo, a poor indio, and a rich social and educated member of the elite. Those three represent the true complexities inherent in Filipino society; the greatness he purports to support and dream of.
The truth is out there for all of us to see but can’t, because we are blissfully wallowing in the shallows.
Speak for yourself, I’m joyfully rolling in the deep.
Personal Note: I like Frankie. He’s a good man, who has contributed a lot to his country. But, in many ways he’s is stuck in the past; he is still governed intellectually by very old and very restrictive frameworks. Frameworks that are all to prevalent, and in dire need of reconceptualizing.