This commentary is follow-on from the previous article about America's failure to elect Jessica Sanchez as their idol. Jessica has become a Filipino idol and her loss in the American Idol competition was a crushing defeat for the Philippine Nation. Filipinos wept openly at the unfairness of it all. They place this heartbreaking loss right alongside the time a few years ago when Colonel Doctor Congressman Manny Pacquiao got thumped by some chump boxer named Morales from Mexico. To this day, Filipinos are convinced Morales had unfairly loaded his gloves with lead pipes.
It is rumored that rabid Jessica fans plan to close down Roxas Boulevard in Manila to protest in front of the American Embassy. Some are arguing that the VFA agreement should be torn up, and the Philippines should look to Japan and Italy for military backing in its little spat with China. One was quoted as saying "America, keep your damn submarines out of Subic Bay! . . . Unless it is named the USS Jessica!""
Well, JoeAm has broadened his literary portfolio to include investigative journalism, not wishing to be out done by a couple of blogging women named Raisa and Ellen. He has dug deeply into this matter to find out exactly what went wrong. Who cheated. Who stuffed the ballot box for that white guy Phillip squared. How America went so wrong in its claim of racial diversity by failing to put Jessica on the masking tape X, mid-stage, where the winner stands when that most handsome of emcees, white guy Ryan Seacrest, crowns her. Joe set out to find out why Americans hate Filipinos so much they'd cheat an innocent 16 year old Filipino . . . oops, American with Filipino mama . . . out of her rightful title.
He first visited the Manila International Airport, and with 200 well-placed pesos, was able to get five minutes on the immigration computer to see the last time Jessica visited the Philippines. He concluded the record-keeping must be wrong, because her name was not listed.
So Mad-Dog Joe hooked up with a young niece in San Diego to get a sneak interview with a few of Jessica's friends at Chula Vista High School. His niece, an American out of Germany, 7th generation, went in disguise as an advance scout for the upcoming Charice concert tour in the US. You know, checking for places to include in the publicity rounds.
Well, that fell flat, too. It would appear that her friends had no idea who Charice was, so that was a bummer to start out with. Then it was revealed that Jessica rarely talked about the Philippines. Her friend Kirsty, an Irish American blonde chick on the cheerleading squad, stuck her megaphone in my niece's ear and shouted, "Like, she's AMERICAN, you know?" And some tall black guy behind her in CVHS athlete's jacket tossed in, "Is the Philippines one of those countries spun off from Russia?"
His buddy, a fat white Jewish guy with skull cap, thick glasses and a hard copy of Dostoevsky's "Brothers Karamazov" under his arm, whacked the jock in the arm and cried out "You stupid Doofus, the Philippines is in South America next to Argentina. That's why everybody there has Spanish names."
My niece left, quickly and quietly.
Undeterred, Joe Am booked a quick flight to meet with a highly placed source at Ateneo U in Manila, a professor of psychology who requested anonymity so as not to be dragged into the alley by rampaging students with "Jessica" tattooed on their arms. Gangs of marauders have been prowling the campus looking for anyone stupid enough to admit they liked Phillip squared over Jessica. They carried heavy metal chains and batons of very hard and illegally harvested nara wood.
The psyche professor suggested we go out onto the Plaza lawn to avoid being overheard.
"Why all this craziness in the Philippines for an AMERICAN singer?" I asked, left eyebrow arched in the way I imagine Sherlock Holmes would arch his.
"Associative pride," said the professor leaning his back against a fat tree. "The belief that if a Filipino does well, Filipinos finally get the recognition they lost when they were colonized by the States."
"Golly whiz," I uttered, censoring my irreligious tendency to exclaim "Holy Christ. That was over a century ago! The Sanchez kid is only 16! And she knows nothing about the Philippines."
The professor smiled. Or perhaps it was a wince. Or maybe just gas. "Well, things here don't change very fast. You understand this you ever try to set an appointment with a doctor or do a credit card transaction or buy a rubber. You can't. Parents feed kids the same attitudes as always, that Americans are imperialists and Filipinos are always taken advantage of and the only way to do better is to pray to the Lord for help."
"Not develop productive plans and execute them? Like, get modern or accept responsibility themselves?"
"Not in the cards, sorry. They pray, just like the Senate does when they open an impeachment trial. They don't look to the law for guidance, or their own sense of responsibility to their oath of office, but to the Lord. After all, there is no word for "responsibility" in any of our 114 dialects."
"You don't know the half of it!" said the professor, his eyebrows furrowed deeply.
"Think of the effort that goes into making up excuses. It's enough to make a grown shrink cry." The professor reached into the breast pocket of his tan corduroy blazer for a tissue. "Why, some Filipinos are even accusing Fox Network of rigging the voting on Idol! Evidently they discovered that Phillip squared is a Republican and Jessica belongs to the Young Democrats Society at school."
"Ah, so that's the reason for his win?"
"No, no, that's just what the lunati . . . er, Filipinos are saying. The reason for his win is that the audience of American Idol is mostly white women who dig sexy white guys. Plus that mousy Jimmy Iovine, the Idol music guy, gave Jessica a lousy song to sing at the end of three months of brilliant singing. He gave Phillip squared a cool song."
"Ah, that would explain why Jimmy Iovine fled for Iceland in the dead of night."
"Yes, it would."
I paused to think this through, chewing on my pencil eraser the way I imagined Sherlock would gum his cocaine pipe. "Well, psychologically speaking, exactly what makes the Philippines so desperate for wins by its contestants?"
The professor leaned forward in a threatening manner, snapping open a five-inch switch blade knife. "Please make sure you don't cite me as the source or I can make . .. ummm . . . arrangements, you dig?"
"Loud and clear. Very."
He leaned back and returned the blade to the pocket of his corduroy jacket.
"First of all, consider if you were the 7th or 8th or 9th kid in a family, you simply don't get enough loving attention to build a sound base of esteem. You need more attention, more strokes. Always you need more. For the rest of your life, you need more."
"Hmmm, makes sense. I suppose the Catholic Church has not considered that."
"I'm not going there! But consider that you are one of 50 students in a school classroom. How much encouragement and nurturing do you figure you get?
"Damn little. You probably crave notice."
"Exactly. And consider that Filipinos everywhere are out seeking wins. At government offices and doctors offices you are treated as a nothing. In discussions with friends, the golden rule does not apply, and you are ridiculed for every mistake. Teachers order you about as if you were a child. Drivers in nice cars run you into the ditch. How would you feel?"
"Desperate for positive strokes. Needy, for wins."
He nodded, a slow, sad nod. "But the big need-builder is poverty. Consider if everybody seemed to have more than you. And no way could you ever catch up."
"Yeah, I see. You'd look for cheers wherever you could find them. Even in America."
The professor stood up and walked off. He paused about 10 paces away, turned, and said.
"And therapy is condemned across the land. So there is no cure." He turned and walked off.
It took a moment for all this to sink in. I turned to the fat tree and shouted. "Impeach Phillip! He stole the title from Jessica!"
And I reached for the tissues in my backpack.