Have you ever met a Pinoy who seems to be well-dressed, well-educated, yet at the same time berates and humiliates other people, especially those in the service industry, loudly and seemingly without remorse? How about a Pinoy in a position of fame, celebrity, and star quality, but cusses and hurls invectives like a machine gun? How about one who is skilled at debate, can point out to you all the nuances and subtleties of the scientific methods of doing things, yet refuses to let anyone else but him/her have the last say in an argument, and is not above using cheap shots and gangbang tactics just to shut his/her perceived detractors up?
Well, you have just met an example of one of the most outstanding Pinoy oxymorons: the edukadong palengkero. To explain this to people who do not speak Filipino/Tagalog in the simplest terms possible, the term I used above describes a person who gives off the appearance of being refined, yet his/her reality is one who engages everyone in as brusque, loud, and disrespectful a manner as possible. This term as a whole is a bit difficult to translate literally, so I’ll break down the term into parts and analyze each.
Edukado is the easier term to explain. It literally means educated. It connotes someone who is knowledgeable in either scholarly ways or ways of the world. For the purpose of this write-up, we can also include under edukado people who are considered opinion-shapers (media people, politicians) and idolized on the screen (movie-stars). Palengkero/a, literally a man/woman who goes to the market, has taken on a pejorative meaning here in the Philippines because it connotes that people who go to market are ill-mannered, always pick or look for a fight, and always shout at the top of their lungs. The closest equivalents I can think of in English are the following terms: crude, tactless, boorish, loudmouth, ill-mannered, and uncouth. For Filipinos, we know loudmouth by the vernacular term bungangero/a.
[Photo courtesy: Aimee.philwind.com]
In short, the parallel of the edukadong palengkero in English is along the lines of the refined boor.
I’m not just describing an abstract concept here. This type of person is alive, kicking, and has many names associated with it.
Media and show business abound with examples. One need not look any further than Claudine Barretto and Raymart Santiago in recent news. These “celebrities” have shown that the poise and composure that they’re supposed to portray on the big screen does not necessarily carry over to real life. The Tulfo brothers, on the other hand, aren’t exactly saints either; using their T3 program to make grave threats (probably empty too, by the way) to their brother’s assailants does not exactly express the “discipline” that media people are purported to have. Annabelle Rama and Marian Rivera are also two of the more allegedly infamous palengkeras in the showbiz industry.
Politicians are not about to get left behind. Tito Sotto, formerly of Tito, Vic, and Joey fame and now a senator, made the cut for edukadong palengkero when he threw a monumental tantrum over CNN’s feature of pagpag. Jinggoy Estrada certainly was acting like one in the impeachment trial sessions this week; he was the one who kept insisting that only Chief Justice Corona can set the “records” straight.
Let’s not forget the highest ranking government official who happens to be the archetypical edukadong palengkero. No, I’m not talking about Mar Roxas; he’s Mr. Palengke. We’re talking about our “esteemed” President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, or Noynoy (PNoy), especially when he continued complaining about his predecessor’s “corruption” in the recent ADB summit held in Manila.
Even internet forums are not safe from edukadong palengkeros. We’ve all encountered people who feel that the rules of blogs and forums do not apply to them when it comes to following standards of decency in commenting. I was a bit surprised, to say the least, that even some reputable pundits succumb to palengkero tendencies. Everytime it seems a flaming/bashing war dies down they light it up again. They don’t know how to make their point succinctly and just leave it at that. They think they have to answer to every bit of criticism thrown against them. They hope to silence their detractors by commenting to them into submission. I don’t understand why they can’t just leave well enough alone; it’s not exactly the correct thing to do if you ask me.
What is it about our society that churns out people who exhibit these contradictory characteristics at the same time? Does the fact that we revert to such barbaric behavior when faced with conflict indicate a regression or lack of evolution in our thinking process as a people? Well, as I used to hear when I was younger, “you can take the Pinoy out of the barok (crude), but you can never take the barok out of the Pinoy.” That these two conflicting qualities exist at the same time is a not-so-subtle expression of another point: No matter how much money a person acquires, it won’t buy them breeding.
We can do as much analysis as we want, but in the end, all roads lead to the Pinoy ego. That over-inflated sense of self-importance makes the Pinoy his own worst enemy. The Pinoy has not learned to think using the head that’s above the neck, instead of his emotions, in sorting things out. The Pinoy’s enlarged sense of entitlement, that empty arrogance, that feeling that everyone is out to “put one over them”: these are the very things that prevent Pinoys from becoming a cohesive society bigger than their own beings.
As I said before in one of my previous write-ups, perhaps what it will take Pinoys to realize that there is more to life than being self-important, egotistical crybabies is a big humiliation on the global stage. We need to be chopped down to size, and rebuilt again as a stronger entity.
Filipinos already speak very loudly; but they don’t have the big stick to go along with it.
[Photo of students courtesy Boy in Bag.]