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[OPINION] Alice Guo in Wonderland & our circus of politics

By WILSON LEE FLORES, The Philippine Star Published Jun 02, 2024 5:00 am Updated Jun 02, 2024 2:37 am

In a spectacle that would make Lewis Carroll blush, our Philippine Senate has transformed into a theater of the absurd, focusing on the tear-jerker life story of controversial Bamban, Tarlac Mayor Alice Leal Guo. This melodrama is a macabre, mind-bending diversion from the ostensibly serious investigation into the controversial Philippine Online Gaming Operations (POGOs). Senator Koko Pimentel and human rights activist Teresita Ang See are among a growing number of weary citizens like me who are both aghast and thoroughly amused by this farcical circus.

Is this what the ancient Romans warned about when they said the political elite offer “Bread and Circuses” to keep the masses complacent? (Thank you, Roman poet Juvenal.) The Senate’s focus on Mayor Guo’s lineage and personal tribulations, instead of addressing the real, pressing issues of POGOs, inflation and economic stagnation, feels like a grand, wasteful distraction.

Comparing this circus, which already has undertones of racist Sinophobia, to the infamous Dreyfus Affair is tempting. In the 19th century, Army Captain Alfred Dreyfus was wrongly accused of being a spy for Germany, largely due to his Jewish heritage, leading to a scandal that rocked France. Similarly, Mayor Guo’s case seems to be less about whether POGOs are okay or not, not on her policies or competence but more about her background. The macabre fascination with her alleged status as the illegitimate child of a Chinese businessman and his domestic helper, alongside the late registration of her birth certificate, mirrors the historical injustices where vicious personal attacks overshadow substantive issues.

For those unfamiliar, the Philippine Statistical Agency (PSA) reported in January that 3.7 million Filipinos actually lack birth certificates. This statistic underscores how unremarkable Guo’s late registration should be. Moreover, being an illegitimate child in the Philippines is not an anomaly. Esteemed figures such as President Sergio Osmeña Sr. (allegedly the son out of wedlock of a Chinese immigrant tycoon but recently claimed by some of his kin as the illegitimate son of another Chinese mestizo), Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Speaker Ramon Mitra Jr. and others share similar backgrounds. Even our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, descended from a Chinese immigrant, Domingo Lamco (Chinese name Cua Yi Lam) whose son became the mayor of Biñan and whom he gave the name “Francisco Mercado.” Such stories should remind us that lineage does not determine one’s worth, citizenship or capability.

Speaking of political mudslinging and illegitimacy, consider the tale I heard of Manuel L. Quezon. During his presidential campaign in the 1930s, he was accused at a public rally of being the illegitimate son of a Catholic priest. Quezon’s quick retort decrying this as a below-the-belt insult—and cracking that he was actually the son of a bishop—turned a potentially damaging accusation into a joke, highlighting the absurdity of such attacks. This historical anecdote serves as a reminder that personal history should not eclipse political competence.

By the way, it’s high time we abandon the derogatory term “illegitimate children.” Instead, let’s label the real culprits: the “illegitimate parents” who are behind this unfair stigma. As for our grandstanding politicians, perhaps it’s time we coined a term for them too: “bastard politicos”— those who thrive on noisy demagoguery and farcical theatrics rather than genuine public service!

The ongoing Senate investigation into Mayor Guo’s life story is not just a waste of taxpayers’ money; it’s an insult to the intelligence and seemingly infinite patience of the Filipino people. Theatrics and inane personal attacks should not take precedence over real, pressing issues. The Senate should return to discussing matters of genuine importance: the need to completely ban the immoral and sleazy POGOs, tackle inflation, and bolster economic growth.

Let’s let the political circus cease. Let’s return to common sense, intelligence, and true patriotism. It’s time our legislators focus on their real job: serving the public interest and uplifting the nation, not staging a ludicrous soap opera!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions of PhilSTAR L!fe, its parent company and affiliates, or its staff.