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Filipino political humor, February, 1986

Manuel L. Quezon III

Filipino Political Humor

February 1986–“Amang” Rodriguez, known as “Mr Nacionalista” and famous for his malapropisms, congratulated U.S. Pres. Dwight Eisenhower on a speech the latter had just delivered saying, with a radiant smile:

“That was a great speech! It should be published posthumously.”

Sebastian Ugarte of football fame and after whom the field in Makati is named liked to tell this story about an aide of Commonwealth Pres. Manuel Quezon in exile in the United States during World War II. Vice-Pres. Sergio Osmeña Sr. should have succeeded Quezon as President when the latter’s term expired under the Constitution, but Quezon would remain President. His aide loudly supported him, referring contemptuously to Osmeña as:

“That Chinaman.”

Quezon died and Osmeña became President.

“At last,” exclaimed the former Quezon aide, “we have a statesman!”

When Manuel Roxas, who had been accused of collaboration with the Japanese invader, split the Nacionalist Party, formed the Liberal and announced his candidacy for the Presidency against Osmeña the professional nay-yea sayer expressed the highest indignation at Roxas’s action:

“That collaborator!”

The Roxas won.

“Now, we have an economist!” rejoiced the man of all politcal seasons.

The wittiest of the lot was Mayor Arsenio Lacson of Manila, a man of “infinite jest” and well, invention. Lacson, who was also the best sports writer the country ever had, and even up to now, described a fistic encounter between two old senators right in the Senate hall as:”The battle of a couple of centuries.”

Then Pres. Elpidio Quirino who was suffering from a severe case of gout, received this accolade from Lacson: “He has one foot in the grave and the other foot goosing the Filipino people.”

Lacson called Manuel de la Fuente, the preceeding mayor of Manila, “Canvas-back De la Fuente,” from the once-upon-a-time pugilist’s alleged propensity for hitting the canvas.

It was all in fun, of course. That was the Age of Innocence.

Lacson’s best was probably this:

After a senator involved in a war-surplus scandal decided to run for President, he went to Quiapo Church for reassurance on his candidacy from the Black Nazarene.

“Lord, what are my chances in the election?” asked the kneeling candidate.

“May suerte, ka,” said the Black Nazarene. “May suerte, ka.”

“Thank you, Lord,” said the happy man.

The following month, he sought further reassurance and once more received the same comforting reply.

But how could be possibly win against the formidable advantages of his opponent? In an anguish of doubt he went to the church for the third time and on his knees, torn between the previous answers of the Black Nazarene and his new uncertainty, cried:

“Lord, Lord, what are my chances in the election?”

Said the Black Nazarene:

“May suerte ka nga nakapako ang aking paa, kung hindi, sisipain kita!”

What’s been happening to the Filipino people, what’s being done to them is no laughing matter. Humor out of such suffering should be as difficult of extraction as water from stone, blood from turnip – but humor issues, just the same. Filipino wit is irrespressible. It may amount to nothing more than whistling past a graveyard. But if one can still laugh at one’s situation however grim it may be, it can’t be as bad as all that. Laughter wards off despair. It is also the oppressor’s secret weapon, though not wielded by him; he is a mere beneficiary. For while one is laughing, one can’t be mad.

The best practising wit around these days is probably Alejandro Roces, former secretary of education and author of one published book on the Filipino fiesta and several more awaiting publication. Here’s Anding:

Of a KBL candidate for the National Ass. in l978, Anding said that the man was so old “he was godfather at the baptism of Andres Bonifacio” – which the man troubled himself to deny.

Another KBL bet of similar vintage was quoted by Anding as saying, in denial of his alleged senility: “That’s a lie! I’m not senile.What are the signs of senility? No. 1. Loss of memory. No.2. . . No. 2. . . No. 2. . No. 2 . . .”

And there was the man who, because of the recurrent shortages, got so fed up with having to line up for water, rice, sugar, every necessity, he got his bolo and proceeded to Malacañang where he was stopped at the gate by a presidential guard.

“What have you come here for?” the guard asked the bolo-waving man.

“I have come to kill the President!” said the man, throwing all caution to the wind.

“Then.” said the guard,”you will have to fall in line.”

The Marcos press headlined it as advocacy of assasination of the President by the Opposition.

Anding’s best is probably:

Farmers were constantly being pressed to attend regular barangay meetings where they were endlessly dosed with government propaganda.One farmer was conspicuous by his absence. The, one day, he showed up.When the barangay captain saw him, he said:

“Ah, there you are. At last! Do you know what you have been missing for not attending these meetings? Do you know what’s going on in our country? What’s what, who’s who?”

The farmer said nothing.

“Do you know who is the minister of tourism?” pressed the barangay captain.

“I don’t know,” confessed the farmer.

“You see, you don’t know. It is Aspiras. Do you know who is the minister of labor?

“I don’t know,” said the farmer humbly.

“That’s the price you pay for non-attendance. Ignorance! The minister of labor of our glorious republic is Blas Ople.

Now it was the turn of the farmer to ask questions. Just one, it turned out.

“Do you know who is Pedro Espadista?” he askedthe barangay captain.

“No,” said the barangay captain after searching his memory.

“I don’t know Pedro Espadista.”

“You see,” said the farmer triumphantly, “that’s what you get for attending these meetings all the time. You don’t know who he is. He is the man who has been sleeping with your wife.”

Last but not least, Arturo Tolentino, running-mate of the Great Dictator:

“Twenty years is already too long a period for anybody to be governing the country, and perhaps it is time for the President to retire.”

“I will not support Marcos . .”

“I will follow the rule of law and prosecute (the Marcos and Romualdez families) if there is evidence.”

“The election is unconstitutional!”

And have you heard this one about the American woman columnist and former high government official who distinguishes between totalitarianism and authoritarianism Marcos-style, chiding the American press for its anti-Marcos “bias,” arguing that the Marcos dictatorship is nicer than other dictatorships?

“I wonder if she has read the Amnesty International report on the widespread use of torture by the Philippine dictatorship. You know, burning the pubic hair of prisoners with cigarette lighter, water cure, forcing water down the throat of a prisoner under interrogation until he or she is almost ready to burst?”

“I don’t know.”

“Maybe, if she were given the same treatment by the Marcos military, she would sing a different tune.”

“What tune?”

“Singing in the rain.”

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3 Comments

  1. […] actually, each generation has its political put-downs, an amusing catalog of them titled Filipino political humor, was published in The Philippines Free Press in February, 1986, including some gems from Lacson, […]

  2. […] In this corner, took its title from the name of Arsenio Lacson’s famous column, and borrowed a line from the great Arsenic himself. The boxing metaphor was courtesy of […]

  3. Enjoyed it. I’m into humor research and have always wanted to write a paper if not a book on PH political humor.

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