By: Reyshimar C. Arguelles

IT’S always nauseating, albeit entertaining, to read “New Year, New Me” cliches. Every year, it’s always the same posts about “writing a new chapter” or “making positive changes.” If I get ten pesos for every sentimental post that’s on my newsfeed, I will be able to run for congressman and introduce a bill banning this avidity to the “New Year, New Me” mindset.

I am only kidding of course. People are free to welcome the New Year in ways that do not involve stabbing, shooting, blowing other people up, and saying things that are just off-kilter. Everyone deserves a turn for the better. But what’s certain is that we don’t have to complete a whole calendar to make important changes. If you want to change, just do it already, man.

So, what’s there to change in 2019? Nothing much, only that it’s another election year where we get to vote for new additions to the cast of characters in this never-ending film franchise called Philippine politics. But what I am more concerned about is the amount of people who are still unwilling to adopt a more rational understanding of what’s currently going on. You know that we’re still a work in progress as we continue to be enamored of strongmen and misogynists that market themselves as public servants.

In a recent speech just days before 2019 came ramming its way through the door, the President gave his usual slice-of-life anecdotes that often have a surreal tinge. Only this time, the President may have incurred more than just docile reactions from people who still cling to his cult of personality like mosquitoes sucking from a blood bag. Only this time, the President may have gone overboard by treating a childhood sexual escapade as nothing but off-kilter small talk over peanuts and Pilsen.

As expected, Presidential hypebeast Salvador Panelo was quick to shoot down any accusation of misogyny and vulgarity aimed at Duterte’s confession. For Panelo, the anecdote (like all other inspiring and wonderful stories that the Chief Executive has told) was made in jest, a humorous dramatization of the President’s experiences at the hands of pervy priests.

Let’s admit one thing here: If you’re someone who’s okay with people getting groped, then you’re obviously a depraved monster, which is something the President is not. Being the leader of the nation, he knows better than to kiss women for publicity’s sake or make indecent comments about shooting female rebels right in the crotch. We all know he is that decent.

But hey, he’s actually working for the benefit of the country. No one else could have rejuvenated Boracay, cleansed the streets of illegal drugs, jailed plunderers, and elevated the whole country to a new dawn under the rallying cry of “Change is Coming.” As always, we are told not to focus too much on what the President says and focus more on what he does and what he is capable of accomplishing.

Then again, speaking is almost always tantamount to doing. We don’t have to dig underneath stream-of-consciousness pronouncements to get the subtext of what a person wants to achieve by being edgy.

If you’re angry at pervy priests just as much as the next guy, it doesn’t give you a free pass in looking at such traumatic personal experiences, talk about them in the most off-kilter way and get away with it. For sure, there are also maids and housekeepers that experience abuse in some form, and to talk about sexual abuse in a gruff and awkward doesn’t make you any better than the pervy priests of your childhood.

What a way to start 2019. But if there’s one thing that we all need to change, it’s how we understand about what’s moral and not. Because at the rate we’re going, I should say we haven’t really settled on a clear conception of decency.