An action man would expel those abusers
GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - October 4, 2015 - 10:00am

Not the LPs, who denote that they’ll “dribble the ball,” till the public forgets about the obscene public lap dancing.

“We will investigate the incident.” That was the feeble statement of Liberal Party presidential standard bearer Mar Roxas about the lewd stage show that followed his swear-in of new members in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, last Thursday.

It means he will dribble the ball till time’s up, that is, protract the probe till the press and public forget. Newsmen who’ve covered politics long enough can read between the lines of official messages. From the wordings they can tell if the politico merely is covering up for his or a ward’s misdeeds, or means business.

In this case the tone of LP vice chairman Franklin Drilon and chair Noynoy Aquino was as lame as president-on-leave Roxas’ about the ago-go dancers whose video at their official event embarrassingly had gone viral. “It was an isolated incident,” said Drilon, as if belittling the big case of abuse of women, and of exposing to obscenity the minors who happened to be there. “The President does not condone it, he was not there, the Party will know what to do,” a Malacañang spokesman spouted for the boss who seemed to not want to get involved.

Veteran newsmen know how a no-nonsense leader would react in the face of such gross impunity. He would say, “I will make them answer.” That was what action man President Fidel Ramos said upon verifying a columnist’s article about a drug detainee being able to sneak off to home each night and return before 8-a.m. roll call the next day. He sacked the Mandaluyong City jail warden and guards within minutes of finding the detainee missing in that early morning surprise visit.

The tele-viewing public knows who the culprits are in that onstage lap dancing. P-Noy and Drilon were absent, and Roxas had repaired for lunch elsewhere when Laguna Rep. Benjamin Agarao’s birthday party began right after the swear-in. The emcee kept announcing that Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino had brought the “surprise gift” of three “sexy dancers” from the Playgirls troupe. It was an LP municipal councilor who was videoed lying onstage for the scantily clad dancer to gyrate near his face. Those were LP members stomping their feet and hooting at the dancers.

If candidate Roxas were a true crusader for “Matuwid na Daan (Straight Path)” he would have them all expelled from his LP – no excuses. True, politics is addition in these times of election fever. But Roxas must walk the talk.

In epilogue, it should be stressed that Tolentino vehemently has denied having crassly given away the Playgirls as gift. Too, that such denial has incited Netizens to pass around the Playgirls’ Facebook page thanking him for whatever favor, and showing them wearing campaign T-shirts of Tolentino’s mayor-brother, another LP incidentally, during the 2013 election.

Call it karma or what, but Tolentino’s presence in that midday birthday party in faraway Laguna, when he should have been at work in his traffic-snarled, garbage-piled, air-polluted, stormed out, flooded metropolis turf, did him in. He should have listened to influential broadcaster Ted Failon’s wise counsel months ago to stay at his post. Instead he chose to stump the provinces in premature campaigning, trying to up his popularity ratings enough to be included in the LP’s 2016 senatorial slate by giving away Metro Manila-owned traffic lights and teaching what he failed most to do: untangle traffic. Now he’s in deep trouble. Perhaps there’s a message there somewhere.

* * *

Today’s hero-starved youth do not usually go gaga over folk artists as they’re doing with an Igorot tattooist and a Tausug dancer. That’s because Wang-Od Oggay and Ligaya Fernando Amilbangsa do them proud. Wang-Od, 97, is possibly the last “mambabatuk” or ancient tattoo artist in the Cordilleras. Prolific despite her age, she continues to stir interest in the “Batuk,” traditional full-body markings of Cordillera women to denote beauty, and of headhunting warriors as fearsome. Amilbangsa, 72, tirelessly promotes the “Pangalay” ethnic dance, for which she recently won the Magsaysay Award for cultural preservation. Believed to have originated from India, the dance spread among the tribes of Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan before the introduction of Islam in the 1400s and Christianity in the 1500s. Born in Marikina and wedded to a Sulu datu, Amilbangsa cultivates appreciation of Minsupala art, the focus of her 1983 book.

Youth Netizens have been advocating formal recognition for Wang-Od and Amilbangsa. And Miriam Defensor-Santiago, herself a Magsaysay Awardee for civil service, obliges them by having the Senate endorse the two folk artists as National Living Treasures. The distinction is for indigenous artists and groups that excel in traditional arts. “The admirable contributions of these two women cannot go unnoticed,” Defensor-Santiago writes in a Senate resolution. “In an era where distractions abound thanks to information technology, they successfully raise awareness of traditional art forms that are otherwise dying.”

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts confers the honor under the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan. “Both Wang-Od and Amilbangsa fulfill the minimum requirements to be honored,” the senator states. Conceived under the Manlilikha ng Bayan Act of 1992, the criteria include technical and creative skill, artistic quality, character and integrity.

Awardees receive, aside from special medals, an initial P100,000-grant and lifetime monthly stipend of P14,000. They may also avail of up to P750,000 in medical and hospitalization benefits, and funeral assistance similar to that given National Artists.

Only 13 recipients have been given the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan. These include T’boli princess Lang Dulay, known for producing intricately patterned T’nalak cloth from abaca; Iloilo epic chanter Frederico Caballero; and artist and poet Ginaw Bilog from Oriental Mindoro.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

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