Don’t Send In The Clowns

What’s with this epidemic of clown sightings all over the United States?

Most of the sightings are deemed non-threatening, like a clown holding some balloons in a poorly lit street corner. Though there was a report of a knife-wielding clown that attacked a boy in Michigan, and clowns with baseball bats spotted also near that same area. There have been other reports of violently threatening clowns.

I think this is more than just clowning around.


It started in late August, when an unsubstantiated report of clowns sighted near the woods in South Carolina. Apparently these clowns were luring children to come into the woods. Since then several incidents of clown sighting were reported in other states, including North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, Texas, Phoenix and Idaho.

Nobody is sure if this mass frenzy are just pranks or hoaxes, or are unusual marketing tricks or something (related to a movie that will be soon released?), or a mad social fad. Whatever it is, it is startling and at the same time creepy. But it’s definitely not funny.

In fairness, the studio who recently wrapped up the production of the film, “It”, which is a remake of the film based on Stephen King’s 1986 novel, denies any involvement in this rash of clown sightings. The novel/movie is about a nightmarish clown who hunts children.

The White House have already weighed in on these clown threats, though deferring the matter to the FBI and Homeland Security. Even the master of horror, Stephen King himself, called for calm and to cool down on this clown hysteria.

There is a specific phobia of clowns. It is called Coulrophobia. It is not hard to understand why a person can be afraid of someone with an aberrant-looking face. It is disturbing, to say the least. I don’t understand it as well, why we have this creepy looking character graze our children’s birthday parties.

I myself, am spooked by clowns. Though I like the song “Send in the Clowns,” a ballad written by Stephen Sondheim for the 1973 musical A Little Night Music. The song became popular after Frank Sinatra recorded it, and Judy Collins’ version made the charts.

Anyway, back with this hysteria of creepy clown sightings, it is said that it is hurting the real clown business. And there was a news report that concerned professional clowns were forming a movement named Clown Lives Matter. They will hold a peaceful march in Tucson Arizona next week.

I am not sure if Ronald McDonald will join the march.

Then this week, there have been sightings of clowns in several universities here in Iowa, where I live. There were also sightings in some high schools here in Des Moines. Police have even accosted a high school student in Des Moines who was dressed as a clown. Apparently the student did it for a prank.

I am afraid that somebody will get seriously hurt with this craziness. It could be that more violent clowns would attack, or who knows, people will get so spooked that they will start shooting all these clowns.

In other news, there were sightings of clowns in the Philippines too. It may be startling, but definitely not funny.

They reportedly appeared in the senate.

Proverbial Filipino

News from my country have been hugging the headlines lately and has been reverberating even to foreign and distant shores. Are you amused how interesting our nation is? Or you’re bemused and shaking your head that we’re just a bunch of clowns.

But perhaps if I present some of the old Filipino sayings or proverbs that are unique to our culture, and explain their meaning, hopefully this can help demystify us as a people.

For my non-Filipino readers out there, these proverbs may let you sneak at the Filipino psyche and understand our people better. For Filipinos like me, this will affirm what you already know and perhaps make more sense with regards to the current happenings in our country, especially in our political circus arena.

1.  Matalino man ang matsing, ay naiisahan din.

Loosely translated, “cunning may be the monkey, but it still can be tricked.”

This may give you an idea, why we fight cunning with cunning. Some even resort to trickery.  We even praise people with their “abilidad” of getting things done even if this does not follow the prevailing rules.

But there’s also a popular saying taken from the above proverb: Matalino man ang matsing, unggoy pa rin. Meaning, cunning or wise may be the monkey, it is still a monkey.

2.  Ang taong nagigipit, sa patalim kumakapit.

“A person in desperate need, will cling to the knife/sword.”

I understand that there are lots of circumstances that may be beyond our control that placed us in desperate situations. And desperate situations may need desperate measures. Even resorting to dangerous liaisons and means.

Though there are also circumstances that we are in, that is due to our own doing. Take the instance of the huge drug problem in our country, that no one can deny. People hooked on these illegal substances will do whatever means, even how dangerous they are, to feed their addiction. Sadly to say, those who live by the sword, die by the sword.

3. Walang naninira sa bakal kundi sariling kalawang.

“Nothing destroys iron but its own corrosion.”

We may have been colonized by other nations before, but we cannot blame all our ills to them. Hard to admit, it is our own fraudulence and corruption that send us where we are now. It is deeply ingrained in our systems and government, that it will be very hard to purge them out.

Though I still believe that we are a strong and resilient people. Yes, as strong as iron. But I guess we are not stainless or rust-proof.

4. Sa lahat ng gubat, may ahas.

“In every forest, there’s snake.”

This again reflects our long history and past experiences of being abused and betrayed. It is then understandable that it is hard for us to trust so easily, nor give our confidence freely. Because we believe, somewhere a snake is lurking.

5.  Ang punong maraming bunga, binabato.

A tree with many fruits, is being stoned.

Maybe this is peculiar to our culture. That is we have many tall fruit-bearing trees that are difficult to climb. So to get the fruit, we try to throw stones to it, so the fruits would fall.

So when people criticize or try to put you down, maybe because you have something that they don’t have. Maybe you should console yourself that when people try to throw stones at you, figuratively, it is because you have lots of fruits.

6.  Kung sinong unang pumutak, siya ang nangitlog.

“The one who cackle first, is the one who laid egg.”

If you go to a poultry house, you would observe that the chicken that cackles and is noisy, is the one who laid egg. This means that people who usually are complaining and accusing, are the ones who are guilty.

But there are also instances that people who are loud and noisy are the ones who don’t accomplish much.  They are sometimes the ones that have no guts to do things. So I believe the opposite can also be true:

“Ang putak nang putak, walang itlog.”

That I’ll leave for you to figure out.

7.  Ang araw bago sumikat nakikita muna’y banaag.

Loosely translated, “early dawn precedes sunrise.”

Meaning that before we see the light, we may experience some darkness first. Yet even with the faintest of light, this still promises that surely the sun will rise.

The Filipinos are very patient people. We have experienced centuries of subjugation and oppression from other countries, and also decades upon decades of exploitation and injustice even from own people. Yet the Filipinos are still hopeful, that soon the sun will rise.

Now that we are seeing a little light, please give us the time and the opportunity, as well as the benefit of the doubt, that we can rise from our darkest nights.




Balita Mula Sa Bayan Ko

Lapit mga kaibigan at makinig kayo,
Ako’y may dala dalang balita galing sa bayan ko,
Nais kong ipamahagi ang mga kwento at,
Ang mga pangyayaring nagaganap sa lupang ipinangako. 

(lyrics from the song Balita by Asin)

Kasama ako sa mga milyon-milyong Pilipino na wala sa ating bansa, ngunit lagi pa ring nakatutok sa mga balitang nanggagaling sa bayan ko. Masasabi ko rin na ang mga balita mula sa ating bayan ay umaalingawngaw hanggang sa iba’t ibang sulok ng mundo.

Hindi lang mga Pilipino ang mga nagdadala ng balita. Kahit ibang tao sa ibang bansa ay pawang interesado sa mga pangyayari sa ating bayan. Marami rin namang mga kritiko. Maging ibang lahi na wala naman mismo sa ating bansa. Pero ito lang ang masasabi ko sa kanila, hindi ba mga Pilipino rin ang mas nakakaalam kung ano ang mas makabubuti sa bansang Pilipinas?

Ako ay lumaki sa panahon ng Martial Law. Tuwing flag ceremony noong ako’y nag-aaral pa sa elementarya ay inaawit namin ang Bagong Lipunan. Sa katunayan, saulado ko pa rin ang kantang ito:

May bagong silang,

May bago nang buhay,

Bagong bansa,

Bagong galaw,

Sa Bagong Lipunan.

Magbabago ang lahat,

Tungo sa pag-unlad,

at ating itanghal,

Bagong lipunan!

Ngunit matapos ang maraming taon, hinangad din ng mga mamamayan ang tunay na pagbabago, hindi lamang sa isang kanta. Hindi napakali ang mamamayan, kaya’t sa isang pag-aalsa, ang pamunuan na nasa likod ng awit ng Bagong Lipunan ay napalitan.

Saksi ako sa mga laksa-laksang tao na nagtungo at nagkampo sa EDSA, na nagsusumamo sa isang pagbabago. Nakigulo rin ako kasama ng aking mga kaklase doon sa EDSA, ngunit pumunta kami noong umalis na ang mga tangke. Ang tanong ko, nagkamali ba ang laksa-laksang mga Pilipino?

Aaminin ko, hindi ako kasama sa mga bumoto kay Cory, hindi sa dahil sa ayaw ko sa Aquino, o dahil sa ako’y maka-Marcos. Hindi ako nakaboto dahil, kulang ako sa edad na bumoto, noong panahon ng rehistro.

Sa katunayan kung may sasama ang loob na napaalis si Marcos ay dapat ang aming sambayanan. Ang aking nanay ay tubong Sarrat, Ilocos Norte. Ilang bahay lang mula sa bahay nila, ang bahay kung saan ipinanganak ang dating Presidente Marcos. Ang bahay na iyon ay naging museo na, at amin itong pinupuntahan kapag kami’y bumibisita sa Sarrat noon.

Ilokano nak met.

Taga Ilocos Norte din si General Fabian Ver na dating kanang-kamay ni Marcos. At ang nanay ni General Ver at ang aking lola ay naging magkaibigan. Madalas ko pa itong nakikita na bumibisita sa bahay ng aking lola kapag kami’y nagbabakasyon sa Ilocos.

Pero dahil sa ngalan ng pagbabago, ay aming tinanggap at yinakap ang naging bagong pamunuan. Kasama ako sa mga nangarap at umasa sa isang pagbabago at mas maunlad na Pilipinas.

Lumipas pa ang mga taon, nang panahon uli ng botohan ng bagong presidente, ay nagkaroon na rin ako ng pagkakataong bumoto. Si Fidel Ramos ang aking napusuan at siya rin ang sumunod na pangulo ng ating bansa. Siya na rin ang huling presidente na aking nagisnan, dahil ako’y tumulak na at lumabas ng Pilipinas matapos niyang manungkulan.

Mula noon, ay naging tahimik na lang akong saksi sa mga kaganapan sa ating bansa. Isa na lang akong tagamasid sa labas ng bansa. Ngunit parati pa ring akong sabik sa mga balita sa ating bayan. At bilang isang Pilipino, ay lagi pa ring nag-aasam para sa kabutihan ng lupang sinilangan.

Ilang mga administrasyon pa ang lumutang at lumubog. Ngunit ang aking bayan ay parang nalulunod at naghihikahos pa rin sa paglangoy laban sa alon ng progreso. Lagi pa ring uhaw ang mga Pilipino sa mga pinangakong pagbabago. Ngunit hanggang sa ngayo’y hindi pa rin maisakatuparan.

May isa akong obserbasyon: bakit yata ang mga dating namumuno sa ating bansa, ay dinadakip at pinapakulong pagkatapos ng kanilang termino?

Ngayon, may bagong upo na namang pamunuan sa ating bansa. Bagong kulay. Bagong pangalan.

Sasabihin ko na may mga pangalan na tila mabango noong nakaraan, ay naging masangsang na sa opinion ng bayan. At mayroon din naman na ang dating dangal ay nabuwal, ngunit ngayo’y  unti-unting ibinabangon muli.

Kahit ako’y nasa labas na ng ating bansa, ay mayroon pa akong isang naobserbahan: ang katapatan ng mga mamamayan ay wala sa pangalan o apelyido ng isang pulitiko. Hindi rin ito nakasalalay sa kulay ng partido. Ang katapatan ng mga Pilipino ay sa ngalan ng tunay na pagbabago. Hanggat hindi ito nakakamit, mananatiling ligalig ang sambayanang Pilipino.

Sa lahat ng mga nag-aalinlangan sa bagong pamunuan, bigyan po naman sana natin sila ng panahon at pagkakataon upang patunayan ang pagbabagong kanilang gustong ihatid. Siguro naman, bawat mamamayan, ang hangad lamang ay para sa kabutihan ng ating bayan.

Patuloy po akong mag-aabang sa mga bali-balita galing sa bayan ko.


P.S. Nakikiramay po ako sa lahat ng naapektuhan ng pagsabog sa Davao.

(*image from here)



Nakakalungkot ang mga bali-balita na nagliyab sa ating bansa noong nakaraang linggo at nakarating pa ito sa ibang bansa. May mga nasaktan, may mga nagalit, at may mga nanindigan. Nahati ang sentimyento ng ating bayan. Kulang na lang magbalibagan tayo ng sapatos sa ating pagbabangayan. Ah, eh, may nagsiliparan din palang Nike na sapatos.

Ano man ang inyong panig o pananaw, maraming nagsasabi na sana raw ay hindi na lang sinabi ang mga nasabi. Sa madaling salita – wah sabi. Dahil pagnasabi ang isang bagay, para itong wasabi ng sushi – masarap sa iba, maanghang sa iba. Kagat dila na lang sana raw.

Hindi ko hinahangad na malagay sa sapatos (hindi na Nike) ni Manny, ngunit kung sakali mang magkataon ay kakagatin ko na lang ang aking dila at aking sasabihin:

“Tat Thritian, tawal taman ‘tung tame-tex tarriage. Tinawa tang tatae tara ta lalati, tinawa tang lalati tara ta tatae.

Tati tara ta takin tito tang, tommon tense tang. Takakita ta ba tang tany tanimals na lalati ta lalati o tatae ta tatae? Mat mabuti ta ‘tung tayop.  Matunong tumilala, tung lalati o lalati, tatae, tatae.

Tayon tung lalaki ta lalaki, tatae ta tatae, mat matahol ta ta tayop tang tao.

To ‘di ba? Tayop tang… tindi talaga twedeng magtama tang lalati ta lalati, tero I’m not tondemning them. ‘Tung tarriage tang, ‘tung tommitting tin tagainst Tod.”


(*altered quote from the full transcribed statement of Pacquiao)

P.S.: wala pong kinalaman sa pag-tatae ang artikulong ito; ang pagkakatulad ay hindi po sinasadya.