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 We Laugh Because We Don't Want to Cry

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Registration date : 2007-07-01

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PostSubject: We Laugh Because We Don't Want to Cry   We Laugh Because We Don't Want to Cry Icon_minitimeFri Jul 13, 2007 3:54 am

We
Laugh Because We Don't Want to Cry


This
article appeared on the December 2000 issue of Metro Magazine.


By
Jim Paredes



"We
can't be doing this every fourteen years or so. We have
to get it right this time", I told a friend during
the first Makati rally asking for Erap's resignation as
she looked at me unsure if I had said something funny
or serious. The here-we-go-again feeling among the older
rallyists in Ayala that day was evident. There we were,
the usual suspects, the same cause-oriented people who
laughed and danced our way to a revolution in EDSA '86.
And here we are again exchanging, texting and laughing
at the latest ERAP jokes this time around.




The
night before, my group the APO had performed for a full
capacity crowd at the Hard Rock Cafe in Glorietta. Any
dig at Erap that evening, no matter how trivial was gobbled
up by the audience like popcorn in a movie house. On the
surface, it seemed like a déjà vu of the
early "subversive" concerts we were doing during
the dark days of the dictatorship. It certainly seemed
like old times. But on a deeper level, the experience
that night felt different. This time around, I noticed
the audience was laughing more nervously, the way one
does amid the specter of impending calamity not unlike
the rustle of leaves before a killer storm. Or the way
we release laughter in between terrifying parts of a movie
like, say, The Excorcist.


In
the late 70's and early 80's, to be outspoken was much
more dangerous than it is today and the audience would
always show its support. People applauded performers who
walked the edge. And when we came out alive to do the
next show, the audience was more emboldened to defy the
dictatorship as well. To candidly express anti-Marcos
views then was to make oneself vulnerable to media boycott,
harassment, imprisonment, or who knows, maybe even the
threat of death. But at the same time, to be funny and
witty was to be charmingly outrageous. And THAT was irresistible!
During those days, Danny, Boboy and I felt like the child
in the fable about the emperor's new clothes. It felt
both heroic and wise to be doing what we were doing.




And
for us, taking on the dictatorship was easy pickings.
The disdain and irreverence we had for the emperor came
naturally. And to make things easier, the concert crowd
was virgin as far as political humor was concerned. The
EtonAPOsila concert series were defining moments for us
as we concocted and performed jingles, skits, and one-liners
with devastating effect. And we spared no one-not the
Marcoses, the IMF-World Bank, not the media, the cronies
nor the Americans.




Recent
shows we have done and others I have watched still attest
to the great power of humor especially lately. The ERAP
jokes still hit the spot except that nowadays, the audience
is less than the blushing 80's virgin we could so easily
charm and seduce with almost any spiel laced with anything
politically mababaw. With the phenomenal popularity of
texting, and the internet, there is now stiff competition.
Very stiff, in fact. The power of texting has put into
the hands of practically everyone the capability to broadcast
to the world any mischievously funny stab on any political
issue (including the not-so-funny ones), and within hours,
the whole Philippines has read and passed on the message.
For us commentators, it means constantly updating ourselves
with the latest political turn of the screw, and sharpening
our wit to draw ever fresher blood....er.. humor out of
the situation. Once a joke reaches the texters, it's as
good as passe. And the more frenzied the pace of the political
deterioration, the more demanding it becomes for performers
and writers to concoct new, fresh and funnier jokes.




"We
laugh because we do not want to cry", talented comic
and friend Jon Santos quotes an anonymous source to explain
why people laugh at political figures. For to make jokes
about the political situation is to find relief through
cynicism---false relief to be sure, but enough to tide
us through the painful moment until a new gag comes along
for the next one. To ease the tragedy of living under
a political culture such as ours where the constant stream
of scandals drowns us in hopelessness, we laugh from joke
to joke-not unlike jumping from one punctured rubber raft
to another. Tenuous as that may seem as a survival tool,
it gets us through the night-as long as there are no shortages
of rafts, that is! Thus, the raft supplier a.k.a. comic
can be likened to our savior, or to be cynical, our pusher
who rations us our daily fix of diversions.




In
the early 80's, it seemed our laughter was more liberated.
It was because we were in dire straits and getting the
Marcos out was definitely the only way to go. Our humor
was pointed and clear because the task was pointed and
clear-we had had enough of this unpopular despot and we
were going to force him out. These days, even if a lot
of us are sure that ERAP has become unfit to lead and
so must be thrown out, there is this unspoken uneasiness,
even a great sense of shame at the realization that we
had allowed the country to go to pot; that we had squandered
our chances at becoming a nation to be taken seriously;
that we had failed and have only ourselves to blame.




And
so we again look to humor to tide us through even if we
know that we probably cannot just text and laugh our way
out of this fix; that we may have to (gasp) finally look
at ourselves and ask why, why we have fallen so low. And
to do THAT-meaning to examine our collective Filipino
conscience and admit our culpability may be asking too
much. After all, do we REALLLY want to get to the root
of why we repeatedly sabotage ourselves? Are we ready
to pay the price for real change or again just laugh our
way out of another desperate situation?




And
so we laugh at Erap. Why? Because we need scapegoats,
and so we drag Jinggoy, Loi, Laarni, Guia, Jude, et al..into
the picture. The more, the merrier! Besides, it is the
easier thing to do because we put the burden of change
solely on our leaders and not on ourselves. This article
is by no means a defense of the President. Far from it.
I, too believe as many others do that he must go! But
to look at our problems solely as consequences of Erap's
weakness of character and content ourselves by just making
fun of him is to again miss our chance at real change.
Let us examine our symbiotic relationship with Erap and
this co-dependent relationship we've always had with our
rulers whom we tacitly give authority to victimize us.
And while we poke fun at him and his crowd, let us realize
that we are missing the biggest joke of all-that the whole
joke is actually on us!

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