Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Imitation is the Best Form of Flattery

I watched the evening news on ABS-CBN earlier.  Rep. Imee Marcos, daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos (the object of the EDSA People Power Revolution), had this to say to Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, on her promise to withdraw Presidential Proclamation No. 1017 once she is assured by the Philippine National Police and other agencies that the country is no longer under a state of emergency:

(Brace yourselves, this is serious…)

“You’re nothing but a second rate, trying hard, copycat… of my dad!

I laughed despite myself!  

Ok if the joke is lost on you (which means you’re either not Filipino or not yet alive in the ‘80’s), let me explain why I found this one line so humorous that it lighted up an otherwise dark week for our laws, especially our Bill of Rights.  I found the line funny because it presented the ironic reality that we are in.

Imee quoted from one of the most popular movies in the 1980’s, Bituing Walang Ningning, from the words that Lavinia Arguelles (not sure about this last name, but played by Cherie Gil) said to Dorina Pineda (again last name is a blur, though  I recall reading the original story on Pinoy komiks before it was made into a movie, but I am certain that this was portrayed by our megastar Ms. Sharon Cuneta).  Lavinia said this before throwing a tall glass of water over poor Dorina in a restaurant, with many witnesses.  

That famous line has been repeated ad nauseaum by Filipinos who to this day love movies that center around the theme of rising from poverty to success.  One of us just has to say “You’re nothing but a second-rate…” and the rest of us could immediately add “…trying hard, copycat!”  

What Imee added about her dad (the ousted President who bound and gagged us for 20 years) painted the picture that is on everyone’s mind now, of Gloria circumventing the laws in order to exercise the powers available during martial law.  The imitation is second-rate and trying-hard because while Marcos had some notion of hiding the injustice to the people, Arroyo does away with that and just goes straight to the point – that she’s arrogating certain powers to herself because people are organizing themselves to overthrow her, believing that she’s “the best person” to run our country.  It makes me cringe to hear her say that.

Let me digress further and recall the movie’s plot.  Dorina grew up selling sampaguita but dreamt of one day becoming a successful singer like her idol, Lavinia.  Being talented and possessing a good heart, she carved a singing career for herself and became an even brighter star than Lavinia.  This prompted the diva to confront Dorina in this famous restaurant scene, as her reign was threatened by a nobody, a sampaguita vendor!  

What’s even more ironic is that Dorina also conquered the heart of Lavinia’s ex-boyfriend, played by Christopher de Leon.  In order to show her love for him, however, and I forget exactly why, she gave up her career and chose to be a bituing walang ningning, or a star that has lost its shine/twinkle/dazzle.  She was happy to just be with her loved one, and gave back to Lavinia her title as the dazzling diva.

Perhaps Dorina realized that the original was always the best, and that she was better off living her own life than following the shadow of someone else.

Perhaps Dorina thought that there were other things more important than career, fame, or success.  

Perhaps she was unwilling to pay the price of success, and she was not prepared to do everything just to keep her throne, er, title, as the concert queen or whatever it was that she achieved in her career.

How I wish our real-life copycat would also have some soul-searching this Lenten season, like what Manang from my previous blog entry suggested.  How I wish she would realize that there are more important things in life than power, and that it is not worth defending, using all means at her disposal (or even beyond her reach), if it meant hurting or giving up her loved ones.

But I am assuming that she has love for those who are being hurt by this imitation proclamation.  Maybe I’m asking too much.  Maybe that sacrifice is supreme.

I wish the Supreme Court would decide soon.  The suspense is making me think of all these rags-to-riches and love-beyond-self themes.

Don’t count me as a Marcos fan, or friend, just someone who appreciates irony with the sense of humor that is uniquely Pinoy.

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