By BENJIE OLIVEROS
Filipinos are known for their hospitality. But hospitality and graciousness are not the only values being taught to Filipino children. Filipinos also value respect. Children could never tell their parents to “shut up” or “I hate you,” because that would be disrespectful.
Filipinos use the term po, opo, manong, manang, ate, kuya to show respect to older people. Yet, these terms are also used to persons who are not that old but, nevertheless, to show respect. In jeepneys one could hear passengers handing out their fare to the driver, calling him kuya or manong.
It is also taboo to say something negative about a dead person because doing so would be disrespectful to the dead and to the grieving family. Accompanying the value for respect is sensitivity to the feelings of others. This is why Filipinos could not, oftentimes, be upfront and tend to hide their true feelings.
Sadly, all of these are lost in social media because one could hide behind handles and avatars. Trolls abound in social media. Others, while not hiding behind handles, tend to be disrespectful because they are not in front of the person who is the subject of their tirades.
Sadly, the Veloso family who has been through so much – poverty, oppression, government neglect and now having one of the siblings in death row and was almost executed, if not for a last minute reprieve – became the victim of trolls and vile attacks in social media.
The reason? They complained about government neglect in the case of Mary Jane.
For this they were called “ignorant” and “traitor” by a member of a once-popular singing group in the 1970s. They were also called as “ingrates” by trolls.
Monique Wilson is right, these are classist and discriminatory. UP Prof. Roselle Pineda is correct in saying that colonizers and the ruling class used these same words to insult and demonize the oppressed toiling masses that dare question their rule.
There are those who are neither trolls nor bashers but were offended by what they call as a lack of “utang na loob” or gratitude of the Veloso family. After all, President Aquino did appeal to the Indonesian president to save the life of Mary Jane when the execution was about to be implemented. And there are also those who are allergic when they see Red or the Left being involved in an issue.
Nevertheless, the Veloso family has every right to be angry, frustrated, scared, and exasperated. And the least we could do is respect that.
If these bashers have gone through even half of what the Veloso family experienced all their lives, then, probably they would be cursing the heavens. These are real life experiences and petty bourgeois existential angst is nothing compared to it.
Do their expressions of anger and frustration show that they are being manipulated? Genuine anger and frustration could not be imposed on a person; it has to come from within. On the other hand, it is easy to manipulate social media bashers; all one needs is a computer, smartphone or tablet, a lot of fake social media accounts, and some money to pay whoever is doing it for his or her efforts.
Do their actions show their ignorance? On the contrary, it shows that they have regained their dignity, for they would no longer allow that their rights be trampled upon. On the other hand, those who got what they know about Mary Jane Veloso, her case and her family from press releases and think that they have the right to judge the Veloso family are the ones displaying ignorance.
Are the Velosos traitors? Traitors to whom? Aren’t they the ones who were betrayed?
It’s bad enough that trolls and bashers abound in social media. But for a major daily to pick up the posts of bashers and trolls in social media and misrepresent, package it, as news for the general public’s consumption is worse. A colleague in alternative media aptly described it as a new low in journalism.
It does not only glorify trolls and bashers, it is also deceptive. Worse, by providing a wider audience for trolls and bashers, it demonstrates the major daily’s utter disregard for the feelings of the Veloso family.
In the race, nay war, for ratings and sales, respect is also lost in media. The common forms of disrespect in media are shoving the cameras at the faces of grieving families, posing leading questions then misquoting a source, taking statements out of context, scolding those holding press conferences, among others. But this is the worst, for it amplified the insults and attacks on the Veloso family.
Call us old school, but we believe that the media should show some respect. By respect, we mean not the feudal kind, but that which upholds the dignity of human beings.
While we are in the topic of respect, Bulatlat apologizes to the persons it quoted in the article “Netizens react to Veloso bashing” for inadvertently identifying them as “supporters” of Mary Jane Veloso in the original title.