A #Laboracay Rant

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Carlos Maningat writes:

“By bragging their #Laboracay escapade, they are also flaunting their skimpy ignorance of what Labor Day really is – which is about the massacre of protesting workers who asserted the eight-hour workday and other rights at work which most Boracay-goers are enjoying. But we cannot blame them, for their ignorance is only shaped by a socio-economic structure that is increasingly reversing the gains of workers’ movements and burrowing labour and unionism in oblivion.”

Ooooh, angry.

When I was younger, I would have probably said the same thing. Or close to the same thing: I would have railed on with complicated words and complex sentences. Then again, I’m in the twilight of my youth. I’m long past the sun and sand and surf and whatever you look forward to at the beach these days. I can happily lounge around the pool of some resort in hiking shoes if I have to, warming myself up for a date with the air conditioner and cable TV.

But this isn’t the reason why I “hate” #Laboracay. I have shallow reasons. That hashtag annoys the hell out of me.

It grates: it has the same resonance of a coconut and the communal kudkuran in the palengke (you know, that machine in the palengke where they make durog-durog the buko). It burns: one moment you’re looking at nice-looking people and the next your retinas are fried by pictures of vomit, cellulite, and cellulite that looks like vomit. It sucks: yes, there’s always a hint of bitterness looking at people enjoying life, while you’re checking email.

#Laboracay, to me, is to look at #sunkissed #blessed people who are sort of just there for fluffy sheets in hotel rooms. It is to look at pictures of people in general, a fairly generic view of cinder-block walls and palm trees, and some telescopic aluminum tube. It is to look at aerial shots of one of the top tourist destinations in the country, and see kiskisan of a different sort: neither fish or porn, and Halina Perez nowhere in sight.

Then again, as KJ and “biased” as I am, who am I to judge? I’m the last person in the world to deny people of whatever makes them happy. If cramming six people into a Boracay hostel bathroom is a good way to spend Labor Day weekend, then I’m all for their happy faces (not so much the lagkit). I, too, am a shallow man: perhaps shallower than the #Laboracaying people who can probably do a better job framing workers’ rights from the lens of wage-labor. My Labor Day wasn’t spent fighting for the rights of workers, but fighting the urge to go to work. I didn’t thank Marx or the unions at the Haymarket Area for giving me an eight-hour working day, but buried my face deeper into the pillow and snored. And when the sweltering summer heat died down, I exploited the working class by going to the mall.

My thinking here is that we’re all probably too caught up in the grind of day-to-day life that we miss out on the real lessons to be gleaned from the continuing struggle of work. Marx referred to “alienation” a lot, and it’s somehow helpful to see whatever “shallowness” of #Laboracay as precisely that.

The truth is we should be paying tribute to the working classes today, but we aren’t. We’re so detached from them (no, having work doesn’t mean you’re automatically part of the working class) that we don’t see the value of a P125 wage increase for a factory worker, or why things like Wage Rationalization should be abolished. We should understand: we are dependent on the output of workers. But we don’t: Labor Day is just another holiday. Another day where the struggle of the working Filipino is “leftist,” or that he or she is exhorted to “work harder” and “keep at it” to enjoy the things we non-minimum-wage people can enjoy.

Yes, there’s no greater insult than a struggle being forgotten. It’s not about “ignorance,” or the flaunting thereof, but that this “shallowness” – or whatever it is – is just us being alienated. Detached from the ways of the worker. We could try our best to empathize and support their struggles, but let’s be honest here. There’s a certain difficulty in that when raving on the beach is easier and more fun, where at least the spirit of the talk isn’t cheapened by cynicism or its opposite. That’s why it takes a deep commitment to change society, deeper than all the blogging in the world. #Schwing.

But that’s deep talk. #Laboracay is just irritating, grating, almost insectile in pronunciation and enunciation. But soon this irritation will be replaced with more neuron-burning things born out of the solar anus (heh) of social media: like #blessed Instagram pictures of #brekky, with a GoPro monopod thrown in for good measure, and cowface or whatever. But as far as “skimpy ignorance” goes, at least it looks good.

But this is enough blogging for the day. I’m gonna go christen the #LaBanyo.

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