Tangil? Sangod? Anting-anting?

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - October 8, 2020 - 12:00am

The Visayan dialect must really be rich. It has words that are amazingly picturesque, particularly fitting of things and appropriately descriptive of events. I have rather belatedly learned that there are times that various words are used in different provinces in the Visayas but in their separate uniqueness, they have a common meaning. Here in Cebu for instance, we have the word “anting-anting”. To me, the closest English equivalent is talisman or charm. In some parts of Southern Leyte, they use the word “sangod” and for the Boholanos, it is “tangil”. When President Rodrigo Duterte obtained a 91% performance (and trust) rating in the most recent Pulse Asia survey in relation to the fight against COVID-19, I began to imagine that the president has anting-anting or sangod or tangil and such talisman caused a different impact.

Here is why I say so. An analyst said that when the survey period ended on September 20, the Philippines had almost 300,000 cases of COVID-19 (although this number zoomed to almost 330,000 as of yesterday, October 7, 2020).  This is the worst performance among all countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In an article I earlier wrote, I even pointed to a comparison between the Philippines and Indonesia. While Indonesia, with 260 million people, has almost triple our country’s population of only 106 million, it has much fewer cases of about 270,000 to the Philippines’ 330,000. In fact, the World Health Organization registers the Philippines in the world’s top 20 countries with the most coronavirus cases. So why the flying grade?

Ninety-one percent is an incredibly high rating. Even among institutions of learning, that is a lofty grade. The analyst I have mentioned above attributed this astonishing rating probably to some irrefutable facts. These are: one, when the survey was conducted, cash dole outs were distributed to the beneficiaries of the Social Amelioration Program. Two, those supposedly listed in the SAP belong to our society’s poorest of the poor and three, the 11% increase in the survey that was determined to be the biggest boost in the survey ratings came from such class E. The lower social class “D” gave Duterte only plus 2% while those in the society’s A, B and C classes rated him minus 1 percent. In other words, the respondents who gave Duterte the high ratings were those who received the cash assistance.

Without any offense intended, let me add to that observation. Our country’s social A, B and C classes are the forces that run our economy. They provide capital, generate employment, supply the needed organizational talents and give professional and technical support to companies, big or small, before the class E menial workers come. Differently said, remove the people belonging to the A, B and C crowds from any economic perspective and the economy grinds to a halt. Therefore, the mark given by the class E people does not help the country turn is moribund economy around.

In connection with the fight against the virus, the net effect of the Pulse Asia survey is, most probably, an unintended negative. The president might be led to think that the high rating he obtained translates to an approval of the way he is supposedly leading the country’s fight against the disease. This is not a presidential charm or talisman (and certainly there is no anting-anting, sangod or tangil involved) that gave him 91% rating. The impression that the survey seemed to indicate is, in my own perception, wrong because under the Duterte leadership, we are terribly losing in this coronavirus battle.

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