special series, aired an episode called “Juan
Tanga” last Saturday. I only caught the last thirty minutes. That was
a good thing, as half the show was more than enough to arouse grief, pity,
disgust, embarrassment, anger, disbelief and frustration, not to mention pained
amusement, akin to laughing at a woman who’s stumbled on a pebble and ripped her
pants open at the butt to expose skid-marked
As part of the show, the crew
went around Manila asking people on the street straightforward
“What’s the capital of the
Philippines?” “Um, P?”
“Who’s the husband of
the president?” “Mike Defensor?”
Philippine national bird?” “The chicken?”
was the first president of the Philippines?” “Erap. Erap
“What’s 1/4 plus 1/2?” “I’m not too
good at subtractions (sic).”
sociologist they interviewed stressed that intelligence comes in several forms,
not just the kind of education you get in school. I’m certain the person who was
asked to answer 1/4 plus 1/2 would have easily gotten 25 cents plus 50 cents.
The housewives who couldn’t identify the Philippine national bird could quite
likely be genius-level at wet-marketing.
We have become so skilled at survival,
we can’t even think beyond it.