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Much ado about lugaw

LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph Gonzales (The Freeman) - April 4, 2021 - 12:00am

For all the fire and fury that came out about “lugaw”, that quintessential comfort food of rice gruel, you would have thought there had been a seismic upheaval in our society. Instead, it was just a media uproar about whether this nourishing but carb-heavy meal should be classified as an “essential” good and hence, exempt from strict lockdown rules.

Was media that shallow, that it just kept feeding the story and making it grow? Were netizens that bored, that they wrote diatribes and created memes about lugaw and its deeper meaning in life? Was lugaw that essential, so to speak, that it occupied so much of our time and social media feeds?

What was it about lugaw that this bit of a misunderstanding between a Grab rider and a minor barangay official so very quickly escalated into a spat between the vice president and an undersecretary, and ultimately, a word war with guns blazing and barbed projectiles vomiting between the DDS and Dilawan camps?

Is this just a culture war meant merely to divert people from the misery of the pandemic, and the abject failure of the government to address it?

If we allow ourselves to be distracted by lugaw, aren’t we just giving the government idiots some breathing room, or even a free pass? Perhaps we needn’t have gotten caught up by debates on food classification - the matter of lugaw can be (and was) quickly cleared up, and surely without need for the rancor, name-calling, and vitriol that attended the issue.

Shades of the Dr. Seuss culture wars being waged by Fox News and Republican pundits in the US. Never mind that the Republicans should focus on domestic terrorism committed by those in their ranks, or the creaky bridges and decaying roads criss-crossing the land, or yes, like here, the pandemic response and the neanderthal (not my word) policies and health measures - what’s being blared by right-wing media is Dr. Seuss, and ergo, the liberal’s attack on the American way of life.

(Cue the new controversy about Lil Nas X, his satanic song, and his very queer black erotic video, and how innocent American minors are being seduced into gay-hood).

These divisive news stories aren’t helpful to civil society. They don’t really address the urgent crises faced by Americans, and yet, media has been intent on capturing viewers by stoking their fears, rather than steering the discussion towards sober analysis. Is it just for the clicks and the ads and the likes? Because it’s really doing a great job of keeping the voters dumb.

Same thing here. Our citizens are supposed to be educated towards better choices and good governance. They should be taught how and where to demand accountability and respect for their basic rights. They should at least have the basic principles of justice and redress as part of their starter kits. They should be motivated towards receiving education, bettering themselves, and attaining social mobility and economic progress.

Not inane arguments on lugaw. Or lechon. Or rice cakes. Or who and what is a dilawan. Or where do DDS come from. And these other faux issues that media and the netizens keep dishing out.

Then we have legislators pounding their chests about the shallowest of issues, like the Philippines overtaking Myanmar in internet speed. Well, duh. That’s earth-shaking. Why don’t you talk about Myanmar human rights violations, if you want to go there.

Instead, the government should be focused on the pandemic. The vaccine. More hospitals. Affordable treatments. It should also think of China’s invasion. Their attempts to occupy more of our reefs. Their interference with our elections. Our grid. Our telecoms. Espionage. How about protecting the local economy. Improving infrastructure. Digitization. And the list grows longer.

These are the areas where media should be hammering on government’s doors. Digging deep and exposing. Spotlighting. Demanding answers. Keeping it on its toes. Even exacting accountability.

Leave the shallow stuff to me.

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