What happened to Teddy

By: Reyshimar Arguelles

WHEREAS the Philippine politics of yesteryear was largely defined by legal luminaries quoting from literature to debate important pieces of legislation, we are now treated to senseless brick batting tinged with sexual innuendos and low-brow, noontime show humor. But does it really matter if we call out our leaders to ease up on their penchant for grandstanding and making up excuses for the bad decisions they make?

Apparently not. You can never domesticate a wild beast for the same reason you can never force civility into a mind as complex as Teddy Boy Locsin’s. Of course, it’s in his very nature to disrupt the sensibilities of decent folk by using his mastery of language in demanding accountability from public officials who earn his ire. And he does so using an articulate style of commentary unmatched by anyone, including his colleagues.

Then again, power is corrupting and Teddy Boy has fallen victim to the machine.

You can only lament the fact that, ever since he took the reins of the Department of Foreign Affairs, he has ceased to be the erudite journalist who was cut above the rest, whose eye for detail and masterful prose cultivated his career into an innovator of hard-hitting commentary. His recent tirade against Vice President Leni Robredo was no less controversial, but it lacked substance. You couldn’t really expect someone like Locsin to say words like “bobo” just because he’s mad.

Although Locsin has already apologized for this low-brow attack at an elected official, it doesn’t necessarily address the fact that he has lost himself under all the thick vulgarity flooding the country right now. If only it were possible to bring back the good old days when the lowest insults still contained a certain amount of genius.

This, however, is not an attempt at being condescending towards people who find value in the way our national leaders treat each other, knowing that politicians in the past were just as zany and utterly immoral. It’s just so mind-numbing to see how much political discourse has devolved from refined solemnity to straight up depravity. We can almost compare this to seeing a matinee idol go through a downward spiral of alcohol and small, unimportant TV roles.

But people change just as much as ideas remain in a state of flux. We can’t help but wax nostalgic about a past that was never experienced, lament a present where the last dregs of 20th-century wisdom are exhausted, and be fearful for a future that’s speeding towards the bottomless pit of post-post-modernism. To be a pessimist is the only role that has value in this fantasy we call a democratic project where everything is narrowed down into uninspired speeches about patriotism and keeping the peace even though every noble thing we have ever done up to this point has been outshined by our most humiliating mistakes.

Rightly so, even the President seems to agree in all the absurdity that’s haunting the country right now. And that’s coming from the leader of an administration that lacks the ability to discern hypocrisy and outright treachery. Has no one ever admitted that the concepts of nationalism are just objects to these buffoons who exploit the collective delusions that have us believe in the beauty of our democratic system?

But whose leadership was able to come close to building a clean and fair society? We have been duped right from the start, forced to accept our hopeless history and made to believe that things would get a lot better if we curse just as hard as we pray. We remain victims of this hobgoblin of a political culture that’s anchored on keeping everybody miserable so they would start manufacturing false messiahs that feed off of everyone’s aspirations for a better society.

Of course, nothing ever really matters in a country that has never really overcome its subservient nature. Just like in the past, we’re still a nation of slave drivers who have nurtured even more devious ways to suppress each other.

This morose situation is likely to continue. But what’s certain is the fact that, no matter how low we get just to defend our idols, life couldn’t get much worse.