Jojo A. Robles

Taking us for a ride

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Where ordinary people see a calamity, the more adept see a propaganda opportunity. Or a chance to revive a flagging showbiz career.


The Queen of All the Yellow Minions, I mean, the Yellow Media, took a ride on the impossibly jammed MRT to get to a social function with her cohort of bodyguards, took a selfie and posted it on Instagram. And the Yellow crowd, even those elbowed out to make way for the queen, thought this particularly obnoxious specimen of political royalty had condescended to be with them, if only for a short train ride.

First of all, Kris Aquino did not take her first ever MRT ride to be one with the masses, who were lucky enough to catch a train while nearly all of Metro Manila was going under floodwater after Tuesday’s sudden downpour. She was going to be late to her social event, so she got out of her chauffeured luxury car and took the Edsa train because it was the fastest way to get where she wanted to go, after she had already been stuck for two hours on the flooded streets.

Boxing champ Manny Pacquiao also took an MRT train to get to a prayer meeting and walked about a kilometer to arrive at the venue after the ride. Pacquiao just had to get someplace in the flood; there was no implication that he was “slumming” like Kris and communing with the people.

Second of all, the space Kris and her numerous bodyguards occupied could have gone to many people who needed it more. And they lost some more time getting a ride because Kris can’t obviously be expected to join the interminably long lines just to buy a ticket and be jammed at the loading area after, while she was waiting for a train.

Kris did no one a favor by riding the train. In fact, she inconvenienced not a few more people who desperately needed to ride and needed it more than she did.

Finally, by posting her selfie and gushing about how much fun she had on the wonderful train, Kris showed her uncanny ability to turn a bad situation into a propaganda victory, a trait that is hard-wired to her DNA. If I’m going to have to ride a train, she figured, might as well declare how much better it is to take it than being stuck in some monstrous and icky traffic jam, right?

The Great Train Ride in the Flood, after all, diverted not a few people’s attention from the fact that while the metropolis was going underwater, her brother the Monitoring President was again nowhere to be found, as he always is when there’s a calamity situation. And if the masses can’t have the Noynoying One, well then, they can have his camera-whore sister, instead.

Oh, and by the way, it’s fitting that Kris would ride a train system that has been in the news because her brother is raising its fares and her sister and brother-in-law have been accused of trying to corner supply contracts for it. The family has an inordinate interest in the MRT, it seems, because nearly all of them are getting involved in it.

Personally, the people I’d really like to see riding the Edsa trains are that do-nothing transportation secretary, his quietly-returned, extorting MRT general manager and all the high-and-mighty government functionaries who, like Kris, never get to see how difficult it is to have to commute every day. Maybe a train ride at rush hour, when there’s a flood, will make them realize that they simply cannot run a train system with less than 50 percent of the required rolling stock working and have it used daily by 300 percent more people than it was built for.

So spare me the bodyguard-surrounded selfies and the gushing-idiot reviews. What Kris should really do is join her brother when he makes good on his promise to have run himself over by a train if the Baclaran-Bacoor LRT extension is not completed by 2015 – a promise that, by the way, nobody believes Noynoy will fulfill.

That’s something I promise to “like,”  without or without the selfie.

* * *

The Yellow online brigade has been posting early reviews of yesterday’s “Edsa Tayo” prayer/protest rally, snarkily comparing the relatively small number of attendees to the crowd that went to the massive Aug. 26 protest “picnic” against pork. These people should not in any way dishearten those who want to see an end to all sorts of pork foolishness and thievery.

No one said the fight against pork in all places, be it Congress or Malacanang, is going to be easy. It’s not going to be “convenient,” either, conducted only when and where it will not bother anyone, even those who quietly sympathize.

Ferdinand Marcos’ minions also used the tactic of belittling the crowds who first attended the rallies that immediately followed the burial procession for the slain former Senator Ninoy Aquino. And Marcos responded with mammoth crowds of his own, most of them bussed and bought for the occasion.

But if you’re really incensed by the thievery, you will put up with the heckling and the our-crowd-is-bigger-than-yours comparisons. This isn’t a race to gather the biggest crowds right away, after all, but about who convinces the awakened and outraged majority in the end.

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