Truth, lies, and more lies
EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - April 4, 2019 - 12:00am

There’s no lack of stories here in the land of mayhem. 

The gambler’s paramour has left the family home. A tycoon and his business partner have parted ways in an ending so bitter they seemed like scorned lovers. The prodigal daughter of a rich man is facing her nth estafa case. A company CFO — tall, not dark, and handsome — was seen having dinner with a beautiful lady. The businessman told contractors that payments will be delayed. The despot and his family will soon be vindicated by the highest court of the land.

The stories are varied as they are endless.

Some are spun out of narratives of good and evil. A tyrant falls because a hero stands up and fights. Blood is drawn and the victory flag is raised. 

Age-old narratives of love and war abound, too — the young woman cries in pain as her live-in partner lay dead in her tattooed arms. The man is a drug courier and he deserved to die, so say the men with guns.

There are also tales of sex and power — the secretary is sleeping with his secretary and the secretary’s wife, as is always the case, was the last to know.

These stories are told and retold in hushed whispers over cappuccino, espresso, or just plain black. Some tales make their way to pillow talks in borrowed rooms, the ones with giant mirrors on the ceilings and fresh bananas on the table; or to intimate dinners of grilled lamb and salmon and three rounds of champagne.

And there are all sorts of stories. Some are true, some are lies, and some are different versions of the truth and the lies.

True or false?

There are stories that are dichotomies of each other for instance. They can be true and they can be false, depending on who you are:

“There is no water shortage.”  

“We are facing a water crisis.” 

“There is a crucial bypass and it was closed.” 

“It was never closed.” 

“Chinese loans will lead us into a debt trap.”

“There is no danger of us being drowned in Chinese debt.”

Monstrous lies

And then there are the stories that try to conceal the truth. These are the stories that are most abundant these days and they are everywhere and anywhere in this moving, turning, and chaotic world.

Over lunch recently, for instance, I was told of the ferocious greed of one company. It was shocking to say the least. But I shouldn’t have been surprised. 

I should have known that when the klieg lights are on and the cameras are rolling, people only show their curated selves — they are god’s gifts to society and so are their companies.

The truth is muddled somewhere in the interest of greed, power, and self-preservation — ah the glitz of it all.


The campaign trail, too is another example.

As it is every election season, everyone will have a drama to tell; of how once upon a time, they were all poor and penniless; hungry and abandoned, desperate and desolate.

Honesty, after all, isn’t very important, so says the red queen.


The same is true outside politics.

Next week, when the annual stockholders season opens, the executives of your favorite companies will tell you everything you want to hear.

Everything is doing well because they are great and almighty, the best one you could ever know. They will tell you, too how much your company has earned and you will applaud and smile and thank them for it. And you will be rewarded with centavo-per-share dividends, flimsy umbrellas, and meal stubs for sandwiches so miserable and cold.

But they will not tell you about their growing carbon footprints or how much they’ve earned from market abuse. Neither will they tell you about the posh junkets abroad or the side trips to the horse races and the F1 Grand Prix.

Indeed, whether in business or politics, the narratives for public consumption are carefully curated and presented by god’s army of trolls or by the spin doctors who are sitting on fat retainer fees.

Rising tide of bullsh#t

This is happening in our country and the rest of the world. The lines between fact and fiction are increasingly blurred.

David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, says we are now experiencing the “the rising tide of bullsh#t.”

Everything is true and nothing is true, he says, quoting Barack Obama.

This is our reality today, a reality that we all must face and fight.

It’s little wonder that journalists are being discredited, day in and day out, to give way to all the sh#t. The propaganda machines of authoritarian regimes are having a heyday and billion dollar conglomerates are warping the truth as well.

The situation in our country is no different. Indeed, there are all sorts of stories nowadays. Some speak of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. But some stories are just lies, one after another; lies within lies — monstrous, glaring, and shameless lies. 

Iris Gonzales’ email address is Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales.

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