Manipulativeness has been the order of the day, the name of the game, in the pro-RH camp’s bid to sway public opinion to their side, and while at it, make a side trip to the Catholic Church and attack its hierarchy to bolster the effort to court public attention and eventually win the culture wars. How does one know if an incident is merely such a kind of gimmick or demolition job?
In many cases, a trained eye can spot the warning signs immediately, but there are cases wherein, if one is not careful, it is easy to be duped. As shown in the alarmingly repetitive misquotes attributed to the current pope, the deception can be subtle, especially if the misquote is made by the usual media authorities we’ve trusted. One can not help but suspect whether the deception is deliberate, if not in fact, a conspiracy, an effort to advance a hidden agenda. That’s what happened in the most recent case of restatement, in which the papal statement was reduced into a subset of the statement (a shameless act of reductionism). The focus made on just one part of what was stated resulted in a false metonymy, and was apparently intended to draw attention to that subtopic in focus and prompt the reader to draw his own conclusions from there.
To review: What media said the pope said in his address to the diplomatic corps:
‘Gay marriage is a threat to humanity.”
What the pope actually said:
“Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.”
Notice the effect of the shift. An unsuspecting reader will certainly pick up two different things reading from the original statement to the restatement.
Good thing we’ve learned our lesson well, a very important one, which is to always verify from the primary source.
In November 29, 2011, one curious incident of manipulation on the national stage occurred, which should be funny in retrospect because of the ineptness of the attempt despite the professional earnestness of the actors. The scene was at the pro-RH gallery during the debate on the RH Bill at the Philippine House of Representatives (Quezon City).
According to a congressman who relayed the report, the anti-RH group on that day moved for adjournment to stop the deliberation of the RH bill. The pro-RH camp objected, thinking the move to be an act of stalling, to delay, if not derail, legislation. There was a vote and those for adjournment, the anti-RH, won 31-17. The pro-RH group, thinking at first they had a bigger number, was stunned. But the supporting lobby group in the audience came prepared, as if to wait for just this scenario!
Here’s a Youtube video of the ensuing commotion during the aborted interpellation of Cong. Sergio Apostol.
One can tell who the members of the group were by the purple shirt and purple shawl uniform they wore. Amid the loud heckling and screaming in unison, at least one line was intelligible. It was a melodramatic line straight from a hysterical Nora Aunor opus: “Kailangang mamatay ang buntis sa panganganak bago kayo makonsiyensiya!” (Translation please!)
It was a disrespectful accusation of congressional murder by negligence, as though that was the basic intent of the anti-RH camp.
A cursory background check revealed who the players with the loudest voices were:
1. Mina Tenorio – a stage actress who belongs to the group Artists for RH Bill. I believe she was the one who shouted the melodramatic statement.
2. Magdalena ‘Lina’ Bacalando – described in likhaan:http://www.channel4.com/programmes/unreported-world/articles/philippines-local-hero as “a Community Health Worker for the reproductive health charity Likhaan for 12 years. She dispenses free family planning advice and contraceptives to some of the most deprived people in Manila.” For her work, she has been called the “Gentle Warrior in the Slums.” Lina is also president of PILAKK: http://wwwkatpalasi.tumblr.com/post/10501810862/mmj-assignment-lina-gentle-warrior-in-the-slums
Of course, public reaction to the video clip flew wildly, particularly from the opposing camp.
- “Now what do the pro-RH congressmen say? I remember, when there was a loud murmur from the anti-RH side, Rep. Garin scolded us. Will she do the same with the pro-RH?”
- “There is a double standard here, even in the media coverage of this event, which was referred to as only a “commotion” when a word such as “unruly” was better suited. They clearly lacked discipline and breeding; they should have been kicked out of the Session Hall for boorish behavior.”
- “Looks scripted to me, like they planned it. Watch their body language. It’s as though some were telling their companions, ‘This is it?’ ‘Should we do it now?’ Haha!”
- “Why do the others in purple shawl show no reaction, as though embarrassed at being caught in the middle of it?”
- “This definitely looks planned and planted. They’re not random women from the street, they’re trained to speak in front of people.”
- “Sorry but I was really laughing when I watched this. I was thinking, “And the best actress award goes to…” Sigh, more practice, please!”
- “This is way too staged. Notice how the main “yellers” were already seated up front. If this were truly random, they would have come from different sections of the audience. This is really a show, though i have no idea how they thought this could help their cause. In this one, Lina Bacalando (of Likhaan) is shown first. They seem to be proud of it anyhow, that they posted the video in the Artists for RH page. Notice the tag “occupy” — probably part of their plan from day 1. https://www.facebook.com/ArtistsForRHBill/posts/250898748303245
- “I think this is meant to intimidate lawmakers. Now, next time someone interpellates, at the back of his mind, he’s going to think twice before asking hard questions, because he doesn’t want to get booed by an angry mob. Some may even withdraw their intent to interpellate. If so, their tactic will have paid off. That’s why I think if it happens again, the sergeant-at-arms should be standing by, ready to detain them for contempt, so that they can learn the lesson Mr. Tour Guide (Carlos Celdran) learned. ‘You step out of line, you pay the price.'”
Perhaps the lesson here is that manipulation is futile in the end. People are bound to smell a dead rat whenever something is off.