Friday, May 15, 2009
ABS-CBN News reported today that the Baguio City council declared Candy Pangilinan “persona non grata” by a majority vote. This arose due to her much-maligned “Tao po ako, hindi po ako Igorot” remark that she uttered during a pre-Mother’s Day show last weekend. It means that the comedienne is now considered unwelcome or unwanted in the Philippines summer capital. The council also banned Pangilinan’s movies from being shown in the city’s theaters. Almost all Baguio councilors approved the motion passed by Greg Bagbagen, an Igorot councilor. Only Galo Weygan, also an Igorot councilor, abstained from voting.
Is the measure too strict considering that Candy Pangilinan has apologized multiple times for her mistake? I don’t think so. It is the council’s job to protect and promote the welfare of the city. One just need to check the online forums and the multiple blog comments to understand what hurt the Igorot community has collectively felt in the wake of Pangilinan’s comments. Is the hurt caused by oversensitivity? I don’t think so too. Some parties will probably never understand it – especially those who are non-Igorots, and have never in their life felt how it is to be Igorot and be looked down upon.
Somehow, the strong action by the council and the media hype that this whole affair has generated will surely have an impact on the Philippine populace. A blog visitor has left the following comment on my previous post and I quote – “People should start to stand up and shout foul when they hear discriminatory remarks and jokes such as this. This "tao po ako hindi igorot" has been used many times over in comedy bars, and there was no line delivery mistake - it was in fact, exactly the punchline!” It is no secret that the word “Igorot” is ignorantly attributed to negative traits and is used repeatedly for demeaning jokes to this day. If we think about it, we Filipinos can also be a funny lot. We stood and protested when a dictionary defined “Filipina” as a “maid”; or when some Hollywood actresses uttered insults against the Philippines and its people. But it seems to be acceptable if we look down on our fellow kababayans.
Going back to the ban, it would be interesting to know if the ban is indefinite, or if there is actually an end date to it. I am not sure if there is a precedent of this happening to a showbiz person. Apparently, the last person to have been declared "persona non grata" by the city council was Mailed Molina. Molina, a former Cordillera People's Liberation Army leader, led fellow rebels marching into Baguio bearing firearms. So now, Candy Pangilinan joins Molina in an exclusive list of those being banned by the Baguio City council. While the latter committed an act that endangered the lives of people, the comedienne uttered a line that implied Igorots were not humans. Which do you think is the greater offense?
Related Story: Baguio bans Pangilinan due to Igorot joke