That Filipino humor


    ‘Every time I see ‘Laging Handa’ I laugh so hard I end up crying. It’s that good a joke!’

    IF not for our innate sense of humor, I think our society would have imploded long ago.

     Or imploded over and over again.

    I reckon that one of the “secrets” that have kept this from happening throughout our short (compared to that of the US of A’s, or China’s) but colorful history is the fact that we Filipinos are so good at finding the humorous even in the most depressing situations. And it’s that ability to laugh, at ourselves as much as at others, that helps us to live to fight — or laugh — another day.

    This is more evident in the age of social media, where a joke is transformed into a meme and goes viral in no time. And, in no time, that meme is translated into so many other versions that you can sometimes spend one or two hours a day, even more, laughing at what you receive from your friends — which you then forward to many others.

     And the subject matter can be anything under the sun — from religious events to religious characters to political events and characters. I am old enough to remember that even Ninoy’s assassination spawned its own (morbid) jokes, and there were jokes about the Marcos instructions to be flown to Paoay getting lost in translation that found them in Hawaii.

     Personal tragedies are made into jokes. Our wakes are Filipino versions of the Irish ones where jokes are told about the deceased, who cannot deny, defend himself nor hit back. I also remember one of the first wakes I ever attended even before I was a teen, of a grandfather who used to be the mayor of Paete, Laguna. When he was laying in state at the municipal hall elderly gentlemen gathered on the second floor balcony; when his youngest son joined them and they expressed their condolences, he quipped, “Nauuna-una lang po iyan.”

    To which one of the older menfolk replied: “Ay, wala namang takutan!”

    Natural disasters are not spared, and even the religious are not off limits. Just as Pastor Apollo Quiboloy who is more often than not the subject of a meme or two.

     Or more! From earthquakes to typhoons to ABS-CBN and even to COVID. And back to ABS-CBN.

    Of late, the favorite butt of memes has been the Secretary of Health, who is the face of our “model of containment;” his “first wave/second wave” comments, for example, ended up as captions in pictures featuring Pia Wurtzbach and Catriona Gray doing their victory waves.

     And for a brief moment, the chief of the National Capital Region command of the PNP, who is the face of “mañanita,” threatened to steal the crown from Sec. Duque. But beyond picking on Duque and Gen. Sinas, I have a suspicion that many would like to pick on a few others as the butt of their memes and jokes but hold off; it is tough if, like in America, you decide to tease someone like Trump who is “pikon.”

     At least in this respect I take my hat off to Sec. Duque. “Hindi siya pikon,” I will be one of the first to say.

     Unable to do his job, true, but at least not “pikon.”

     It helps to have a sense of humour, because it helps sometimes if you can just laugh through the roughest of times. And it helps even more if your own government has a sense of humor, like ours does.

    Why do you think will they call the government response to COVID-19, of all things, “Laging Handa,” if they didn’t?

    Every time I see “Laging Handa” I laugh so hard I end up crying. It’s that good a joke!


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