Thursday ∗ 19 Jun 2008

the rich and their notion of nation

i did say i was aching to write about Rogue Magazine‘s independence day issue, but was overtaken by the NHI’s accusations, Joey Mead’s naked body, and Argee Guevarra’s defense.

suffice it to say that it was as i expected of a high-end P180-peso english “literary lifestyle” magazine, and their notion of the “State of the Nation” — the title of the month’s issue. save for Lourd de Veyra’s literary piece on an imagined exchange between two friends, one in Dubai and another in the Philippines, there is no mention AT ALL of the crises that beset this country.

and while the editor’s piece for the month did talk about the need for heroes, as an introduction to their Honor Roll of Nine Portraits of Philippine Pride, all it talked about was corruption in a general sense, alongside the other “pressing and dangerous problems” that beset the nation: “poverty, health care, human rights, the environment, education, and crime”.

at a time when you have a president like GMA who can wax clean and innocent about corruption and all the other six problems they mention, generalizations are the last things we need. these are also the easiest to wax nationalistic about, the easiest words to use to pretend we are concerned with nation and its state.

when in truth we aren’t.

the Honor Roll is a hodgepodge of middle to upper class ex- and present gov’t officials, academicians and NGO people, some of whom took a stand by saying no to corruption and resigning from gov’t office, others by establishing some NGO or other, and yet others by writing column after column on being Filipino. and while the choices are highly debatable (something that the magazine is open to, given that the editor’s note also asks that readers start sending in their choices for what they imagine will be an annual Honor Roll), what it more importantly reveals is the kind of change and heroism that the magazine asserts as relevant at this point.

it is of change that is superficial, the kind that puts a band-aid on what have been the incurable diseases that beset this country. it’s not systemic nor societal change, not even a change in attitude or perception about the kinds of lives we live, in the context of a nation in crisis.

which brings us back to the fact that this issue of Rogue, while it touts itself as the “State of the Nation” issue, is really just proof that what keeps the upper classes comfy in their beds or computer seats, is their notion of nation. reading through this magazine, it doesn’t seem at all like we live in the same nation, nor that there’s a bigger nation that Rogue is part of. more than anything, it sells itself as a global magazine with philippine interests. that is, philippine upper class interests.

truth be told, those images of Smokey Mountain (for the de Veyra piece) seem trivialized in light of the photojournalistic piece on the Aurora Borealis in Alaska, the long article on the elite life that Steve Psinakis lives (which promotes his autobiography), and the feature on revolution according to Pinoy punk – which did not at all interview the punks on the ground, i.e., the mass following of local punk who are understandably enamored by the notion of anarchy in the midst of their hunger.

or maybe this is the nation for the upper classes. and it’s why they- we – can pretend that things are fine, even in the midst of rising prices and every other crisis related to that. maybe this is why there’s been an influx of foreign concert acts, a rise in the number of glossy magazines, the rise of expensive American and European stores in Greenbelt 5.

because in third world Philippines, there is this tiny pocket of the first world that continues to thrive. and to them, the state of the nation remains within the tiny circles they move in, and the even smaller spaces they inhabit. magazines like Rogue included.

Posted in: aktibismo, bayan, kapitalista, komentaryo, kultura, magasin, pulitika

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