THE FILIPINO SENSE OF HUMOR AND THE DUTERTE RAPE JOKE

[Left photo shows President-elect Rody Duterte in one of his campaign rallies stressing a point. Right photo shows a page of the DURIAN POST, a community newsletter being circulated in Davao City with its top-left portion showing an article entitled: “DAVAO CITY INCOME SEEN TO BREACH PH6-B IN 2014”] 

For over two decades,  President-elect Rody Duterte (“Pres. Rody”) reigned as Mayor of one of the richest cities of the Philippines in terms of the yearly revenue that seeps into its coffers. Shortly, after Pres. Rody assumed office as Mayor of Davao City in 2013, Davao City’s financial people prognosticated that the local government unit could almost breach its targeted Php 6 Billion mark in 2014 in terms of annual income. Admittedly, Davao City has emerged as the richest city in the whole of the archipelago outside of the Metro-Manila area.

But, despite the richness of the city which Pres. Rody has governed from being the most crime-ridden city in this part of the globe during the mid-1980s, to its current label as one of the safest cities in the whole world today, Pres. Rody has opted to stay in his modestly simple house stripped of the elegance and rococo of the rich and the famous.

In a Filipino setting, that kind of narration would ostensibly be considered as a joke. It would be deemed as a joke as it would seem that Filipinos, a predominant number I am sure, would espouse the customary belief that if you acquire political power, it must automatically translate to quick financial aggrandizement, meaning a majestic home and flashy cars, to boot.

I have heard a lot of my countrymen cracking that same old joke, in fact parodying a scenario where a soul is given the opportunity to land into some government posting that is usually perceived as a money-making post like the Customs or the Bureau of Internal Revenue; his kith and kin would simply be very angry at him if at the end of his posting, he would remain to be poor.

And he could eventually become the butt of jokes and the subject of a humiliating tirade from relatives and friends in the following fashion: “PUTANG INA MO, BINIGYAN KA NA NG PUWESTO SA GOBYERNO PARA KUMITA KA, HUNGHANG KA, DI KA PA NAGPAYAMAN![English translation: You, son of a bitch, you were given a government post with the opportunity to make money, but you FOOL; you ignored it, you could have been rich by now!] 

But that kind of perception (which may have unfortunately flourished due to the stark impoverishment of many Filipinos)  must now be made a thing of the past under Pres. Rody’s administration.

Truly indeed, the Filipino has a very strange, nay bizarre type of a sense of humor.

In the usual run of things, the men on the streets would almost always be sparked into boisterous laughter even if the joke would contain ribald connotations. In the Filipino lingo, this kind of a joke is labeled as a GREEN JOKE. And the ribaldry could be some talk on sexual matters in an amusingly rude or irreverent way or could even take the form of an ultra lewd, gross or lascivious joke complete with pornographic gestures. And in a Filipino setting, these are the kinds of jokes (i.e. GREEN JOKES) that sell to the Filipino audience more than anything else.

The foregoing serves as a backdrop to the now famous RAPE JOKE which earned Pres. Rody a lot of flak. Without however passing judgment as to whether that RAPE JOKE is unsavory or not, the thing is that it was delivered by Pres. Rody in a political campaign rally.

In a political campaign rally, which is mostly attended by the hoi polloi or the masses, those kinds of GREEN JOKES are the most applauded and the most awaited. The hoi polloi among the Filipinos would not be much interested in the campaign platforms, as they would usually yearn and look for entertainment. But the elite among the politicians would not dare be a purveyor of these kinds of jokes as it would be contemptible in a manner, as the same jokes would seem to be way out of the league of the ELITE.

But Pres. Rody is a man of the masses, he grew up with the poor people of the Visayan and Mindanao regions, and he has continuously assimilated himself daily and nightly with the men in the streets (in fact hearing the same type of GREEN JOKES in the nooks and crannies of the city) as he had in fact shunned the ways of the ELITE. Indeed, Pres. Rody truly knows the tastes of this aggrupation of people for the seemingly lowly type of JOKES (which however typify their way of life and aspirations) and that Pres. Rody wants to be identified with them in JOKE and in POKE.

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