I’m sure that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her stooges… I mean… Cerges… I mean, spokespeople, would downplay the whole New York Post Page Six story and play the “gossip news” card. After all, Page Six is a section of the New York Post that talks about New York, and “no one takes it seriously.” It’s precisely when your President finds herself in the “gossip sections” of a foreign tabloid not “taken seriously” that you kinda worry about the standing of your head of state. Just around the five-foot mark… but really? A million peso dinner?
RLY? SRSLY? OMG WTF ME WANT $$$ FOR NOMNOM NAO! (I swear, I’ll never do that again.)
The sociologist Pierre Bourdieu (YES!) writes that taste is something that is not freely chosen; it is often framed and defined by those who have power. Taste is one of the many things used by the dominant to assert their power, as well as to keep class distinctions in place. As a friend of mine quotes: “Taste classifies, and it classifies the classifier.”
On the one hand, we could say that as the head of state, GMA should not be seeing eating at a McDonald’s, as Ben Cardinez asserts in Manuel Buencamino’s entry in Filipino Voices. The Presidency should be given the honorable standing that it has from something as grand as a yacht to something as mundane as merienda. It’s all a matter of taste, really, and no one – certainly not a young man like myself who loves McDonald’s to death (lol) – is the final arbiter of taste. Yet on a matter of prudence – which is an attitude that’s probably lacking in this Government – when your people mourn the death of a former President, when the poor majority your people eat instant noodles twice a day, and when your Administration is affected by financial scandals and the excesses of acceptable taste; you should have a second, third, or 466th thought of spending a million pesos for a dinner.
Gloria Arroyo was in the United States representing the Philippines and the Filipino nation on an official state visit. In a function of dignitaries, Gloria Arroyo went through the infamy of being Page Six’ed, and the indignity of embarrassing herself at a global level. Any publicity is good publicity, considering how long she was at the US for a 45-minute meeting with Barack Obama, dinner with a bunch of pro-Arroyo organziations (the kind of people who have those “SOLID CERTIFIED” tarpaulin streamers for fans clubs), and spent seven minutes at the funeral of the head of state while the long queue of mourners were stopped.
Never mind whose money it was, never mind who picked up the tab (there’s a good chance it’s taxpayer money anyway, why bother guessing). She don’t practice Santeria, she ain’t got no crystal ball, she had a million dollars, and my, she spent it all. A million pesos doesn’t really mean much, in a country where it is given away in game shows, but this is all expected. I guess that’s the damning part. That imprudence, excess, and boorishness are things we relegate to “What’s new?” Wow. What a lack of taste.
Bravo, Madam President, I’m sure the Prime Dry Aged Strip Steak, served with bone marrow flan, sweet onion, and lamb quarters was excellently paired with fine glass of vintaged Madiera. Hey, you made it to Page Six, and just to make you feel better, congratulations on the more-less-half-hour photo-op with Mr. Obama.
It’s a common feature of historical trivia: the excesses of wine at Roman feasts, Marie Antoinette telling the people of France to eat cake, the game animals that made its way to Hitler’s table, the steak dinners of Ceaucescu… those are things often remembered, and perhaps even ridiculed. History came a bit too early for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and yep, it’s on Page Six.
* – Image from Uniffors.com