From Yoly Villanueva-Ong

First, a disclaimer:  though this woman’s hyphenated last name is “Villanueva,” self is not related to this writer.

She found this writer’s column in The Philippine Star of Sept. 11, 2010, one of the newspapers Dearest Mum brought to the Bay Area on her last visit.

Self loves the display of classic Filipino shorthand:  P-Noy for President Noynoy, for example

Second, self finds herself agreeing wholeheartedly with this writer’s opinion!  And realizes for the first time that she is so very very Filipino in her mode of thinking.

Here goes:

Filipinos vent their frustration through humor, the customary and preferred coping mechanism.  Social analysts have identified this only-in-the-Philippines phenomenon as the cause of our high level of tolerance for ineptitude and folly.  They observed that our culture puts a lot of value on saving “face” while our religion teaches us to turn the other cheek and expect our reward or punishment in the afterlife rather than the present.

This unique de-stress strategy has its pluses and minuses.  On the positive side, kneejerk reactions like fraternity-style rumbles and soccer-fan riots are avoided.  Bungling officials are sniped at with wisecracks that don’t wound them lethally as bullets would.  The national blood pressure and hypertension don’t shoot up to fatal heights.

On the negative side, expressing valid observations as witticisms rather than productive criticism lessens their legitimacy, relegating them as “minor” concerns.  Jokes dissipate righteous anger, allowing lapses to remain uncorrected.  The target of the jeer could simply shrug it off, feign ignorance, deny any wrongdoing and hang in there till it blows over.  Rarely do public officials ever leave from shame.  Resignations as atonement for bad judgement or incompetence are unheard of in Philippine politics.  In fact, even when figuratively or literally caught with their pants down, they remain brazen —  the debauched equivalent of mooning their constituencey.  A steel gut and a thick hide are considered must-haves by politicians.

Well put, Ms. Villanueva-Ong.  Very well put, indeed.

Writing: A Lot Like Sports

Why is self thinking such a thought now?

A few weeks ago, during the Stanford/USC football game,  a newscaster quoted one of the Stanford players as telling his teammates:

“You’ve got to give it all you’ve got.  Whatever you hold back is gone forever.”

Stanford won that game, barely.

Give it all you’ve got, self.  Now, now, now.

You have to revise that novel about the maid and find a better ending.

You’ve got to finish the one you started, about the War.  150 pages is not yet a book.

You’ve got to start sending out that new collection.

All tasks that have been making self so tired, just thinking of them.

Writing is a lot like sports, dear blog readers.

Stay tuned.

Iain Kelly

Fiction Writing

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