PBBM and F1, Toni Gonzaga, and Shopee

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag - The Freeman

Let us not kid ourselves. We are not children anymore. When President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. went to Singapore on the first weekend of October, it was to watch the Formula One races in the Lion City. He went on the invitation of Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who knew he was an F1 nut. If Marcos was able to strike investment deals on the side, that is already a bonus. No reason to fret.

There was nothing wrong with the trip. It was not illegal. It was not immoral. There was nothing remiss in the duties of the presidency to which Marcos was elected. The presidency is not a prison. And like all other 24/7 jobs, it does not deprive the holder the enjoyment of his inalienable rights. Neither does the presidency make abnormal the life of a leader beyond certain understandable limitations.

That said, I still wish Bongbong could just have passed up on the opportunity to get his adrenaline rush from what apparently is a passion for the exhilarating experience of blurring speed and engine noise. I wish Bongbong would not forget that 31 million votes notwithstanding, he is still very much a Marcos and thus a natural magnet for all kinds of scrutiny, fair or foul.

He must understand that his 31 million votes cannot be translated as an expression of love. More logically, his mandate was a concession by a people tired of divisiveness, and a willingness to offer him second chances. People given second chances ought not to squander them. Especially not so soon, as in the case of Marcos. The world is not likely to run out of other means for Bongbong and his carefree days to reunite.

Already we have seen some partying, going off to an Eric Clapton concert, and now this F1 thing. There has to be a little sensitivity required of Bongbong, such that while it may not be wrong or illegal to engage in any of the above activities, restraint might do wonders for the feelings of the 31 million who gave him the chance to prove himself. For it is they who are rendered vulnerable each time such issues crop up.

As for the celebrity Toni Gonzaga, a known Marcos supporter, she continues to be a hapless victim, collateral damage if you will, of the mindless political divisiveness in this country. Recently appointed a brand endorser by the eshopping giant Shopee, she has been the subject of intense bashing on social media. Shopee itself is now subject to boycott threats.

But neither Gonzaga nor Shopee has cause for worry. It is clear who their detractors are, and they are a rapidly dwindling lot, though most certainly not wanting in noise and the resolve to create some. The only worry is that these people have no qualms using the innocent as traction in their desperate attempt to climb up the slippery slope they find themselves in.

Take an online protest waged against Shopee ostensibly by disgruntled employees resentful of the decision to hire Gonzaga as brand ambassador. I do not think Shopee employees, especially in these very difficult times, would do anything like lending their name to dirty politicking at the risk of losing their jobs. It is not in any employee's job description to dip a finger into the politics of the company owners.

It is very clear the hapless Shopee workers are being played without their consent. Complicit in putting their jobs in peril are sectors in media who, wittingly or not, are also being played. One dead giveaway is the protest story "Bakit Siya" carried by both bilyonaryo.com and onepropertee.com which did not even bother to rewrite the press release it was based on. They just printed the same thing word for word.


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