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Political Dynasties in the Philippines: In My Opinion

Next year’s Philippine midterm elections are fast approaching and it paints an all too-familiar image once again: candidates that are ei...



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The Filipino is a happy race. We are a country of gleeful people that simply loves good guffaws. Apparently, Filipinos have this easygoing predisposition that makes things bearable despite the hardships of the daily grind.

In fact, studies reveal that the Philippines is one of the most cheerful people in the world. According to the Happy Planet Index (HPI)* in a study made in 1999, our country was adjudged the 14th happiest place in the world. We may be a developing country, but we belong to the top in terms of happiness, satisfaction, and uhm yeah, contentment.

To start this off, comedy is defined as a universal form of expression and a major dramatic genre that is intended to amuse and make people laugh. And having been influenced by a bunch of colonizers in the past, these help shape the distinct Filipino comedy landscape. Add to this the regular drinking sessions every weekend on our alleys and the ever-beloved television.

With the advent of technology, it gave rise to the radio comedies and eventually the boob tube’s situational comedies. A key factor to the development of our national “comedy consciousness” is the mainstream media. And with the current addition of the world wide web, various entertainment gags and skits can be accessed even from the far-flung areas of the country.

Early Filipino jesting in the mainstream TV and film is characterized by sapakan (hitting) and animated facial expressions reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp. Have actors do dramatic delivery of wisecracks plus, let them hit each other with a rolled newspaper, and you’ve got a riot.
Today, the Filipino comedy in the mainstream is characterized by a series of non-vulgar languages that dwell on the “play on words”, self-depreciation, and puns. But the Filipino comedy has a broad spectrum of styles embodied in variety shows, comedy shows, gag-shows, sitcoms, and noon-time shows which barrage our TV sets 24/7.

A closer look at our TV programming, however, would tell us that it is the noon-time jokes that are most loved. These shows have the distinct “adlib humor” where the host may throw a funny quip or two during a chat or interview with the participant. Most of these punchlines we see on Eat…Bulaga!, WowoWillie, and Showtime! are not premeditated and they come from sheer wittiness of the hosts.
Pun has always been regarded as one the lowest variety of humor. But here in the Philippines, this comedy form sells like pancakes. We sure love to play around with words. Filipinos come up with puns on everything, take offs on people’s names, titles of movies, or song titles. Knock-knock jokes and “pick-up” lines are also very common here. The more obvious the pun, the ‘punnier’… that’s why it’s more pun in the Philippines (insert canned laughter here).
Given that the Pinoys have a high regard for the English language as the latter is one used by the so-called ‘socialites’; a person’s inability to express himself well in English cracks us up. Who would not forget the answer given by Janina San Miguel or Venus Raj in the beauty pageants?
Carabao English.
Add to this, the Filipino tendency to poke fun at the distinct accent of the provincianos. Most people living in the Imperial Manila (who speak Tagalog) find people from the provinces different, inferior and therefore funny. We can observe this in the portrayal of our people at the cinemas and TV shows where the promdis’ mispronunciations, naivete and professed regional traits are deemed risible. (I won’t be testy and go off on a rant on this entry despite being a provinciano myself. I’ll write another article for this topic alone).

Another weird feature of our kind of comedy is our politically incorrect jokes. In this archipelago, people make fun of body types, skin color, and overall physical appearance.  We have jokes pelted towards the differently-abled, or those people who have ‘appearance deficit’ (that’s my George Carlin reference).

The reason for this, maybe, is due to our penchant to describe people by their prominent attributes: pangit (ugly), matabâ (fat), maitím (dark-skinned), pandák (short), kalbó (bald), piláy (cripple), bingot (harelip), pangô (flat-nosed), and what-not. This makes us different from most of the Western humor well, because out there, they do their best to pretend that no one is in any way different from anyone else.

On a related note, the Filipinos love green and toilet jokes and do not have qualms if they're, uhm, disgusting. We’re really quite hung-up on sex – we love crackling jokes about body parts, urges, positions, and what-nots. Yes, that’s the humor of the world’s 12th most populous country which also accidentally happens to be predominantly composed of conservative Catholics.

(Check out the second part of this article, here)

*The Happy Planet Index index measures happiness combining life satisfaction, life expectancy and environmental footprint - the amount of land required to sustain the population and absorb its energy consumption.

Author's Note:
Special thanks to Anonymous who reminded me to properly cite the article written by Nestor U. Torre for  the Philippine Daily Inquirer entitled, "12 Ways To Make Filipinos Laugh" on April 1, 2000.
The online version of the daily can be seen here:,673679.
This is the continuation of the article “Comedy in the Philippines: What Makes the Pinoys Laugh? (Part 1)”. If you haven’t read the first part yet, check it out here.

Being avid music aficionados, the Filipino comedians also venture on musicality as an added element to their brand of comedy. The pioneers of the Filipino vaudeville are Pugo and Togo (composed of Mariano Contreras and Andres Solomon) which were a hit during the Japanese Occupation. They later on influenced the comedy duo of the “Comedy King” Dolphy and Panchito which first introduced the English to Filipino song “translation” jokes. These routines of course, recur up to this day with the frolics of Porky and Choppy (of the PorkChop Duo) and Jose and Wally.
In the cyberspace, the duo of Moymoy Palaboy and Roadfill who would lip sync to some cool tunes rose to celebrity-status because of their millions of YouTube views. On the other hand, a distinct routine of mashing songs up was popularized by Ate Gay. Some comedians on the other hand, impersonate celebrities or singers which combines both amazing visual and verbal humor to the viewers.

Another striking point in Filipino comedy is our lack of sarcasm or irony in gags and skits. American shows on the other hand, employ these (which I truly enjoy), but is not quite understood here. There was even a research which says that Filipinos lack the “satire gene”. I believe there’s some truth to it.

Generally, sarcastic remarks come across as negative and sometimes interpreted as a little mean. These kinds of jokes don’t fly here. Except with the antics of Vice Ganda (Jose Marie Viceral in real life) which was the surprise trendsetter in the current mainstream comedy.

The Filipino “comedy bar” jokes come in with the Showtime! host as its forerunner. I believe that this is the reason why the audacious gay comedian rose to fame. He mastered the art of “roasting” where he says funny things at the expense of another person. His ‘piloso’-phical jokes are new to the Filipino ears, which carry with it an ironic, sarcastic, or insulting taste. Amazingly, this does not fall flat at all.

And with the latest brouhaha that involved him and his rape jokes; I just think that it was a bit overblown. I believe that people can make ANY subject a joke, and in the words of my hero George Carlin, it simply “depends on how you say it” (or maybe for Mr. Viceral’s case, where to say it).

All these varieties are but proofs that we Filipinos have a funny bone, too. And we have tons of styles to cater to our chortle cravings. In an interview done by Lourd de Veyra to comedy icon Joey de Leon on Wasak, the latter is quoted to have said that the Filipino brand of comedy has evolved from simplistic to sophisticated. Back in the days, the gags are done with literal jokes unlike now where these are intricately ‘set-up’.

The Eat… Bulaga! host may be right but I have to admit that still we’ve got a long way to go with regards to comedy-writing. All we have are movies and the TV sitcoms which have recurring storyline and based on low-brow formula. And that’s a remark coming from a proud 90’s kid who grew up to Home Along the Riles, Ang TV, and OK Ka Fairy Ko. That’s why I usually turn to the American stand up comedians George Carlin, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Russell Peters, for inspiration, motivation, and comedic enlightenment. I’ll jump off to an unsolicited advice here: the local counterpart of this kind of humor which I strongly commend is that of Comedy Cartel in Makati. You may check out the routines of Alex Calleja, Tim Tayag, Ron Josol, Rex Navarrete, and more (You can freely look up their acts in YouTube).
In the US, there is what people call the “late night jokes". The hosts come up with one-liners covering popular topics such as politics, country leaders and celebrities. These shows are very rare in the Philippines, except maybe for the stale Conan O’Brien-copycat shows of Jojo A. or Arnold Clavio.

But on top of these differentiated sense of humor, the thing most noteworthy is our predilection of looking into things positively. We are the people that can put up a bold face in the midst of hardships. We are the people that believe we don’t have to take life too seriously. We are the people who don’t jump from buildings when we go bankrupt

No food on the table? Got no job? House washed away by flashflood?  The Filipino can still be seen laughing, singing, or at least still smiling, despite the tribulations. We do this all the time and being gleeful totally cures all of our sorrows.

Uhm, I’m sorry I was carried away. Some things can’t be cured by laughter. Joke only.
Joke Only.

Photo Credit:
Vice Ganda taken from

Author's Note:

This article was inspired by the article written by Nestor U. Torre for  the Philippine Daily Inquirer entitled, "12 Ways To Make Filipinos Laugh" on April 1, 2000.
The online version of the daily can be seen here:,673679.
Special thanks to Anonymous who reminded me to properly cite the author.
                                                                       Taiwan                                Philippines
Total Population                                  23,299,716 (#51)                  101,833,938 (#12)
Square Land Area                               36,000 km                             300,000 km
Defense Budget                                  $8,888,000,000                    $2,439,510,000

Military Manpower Available             12,190,243                            50,649,196
Fit for Military Service                      10,025,261                            41,570,732

Reaching Military Age Yearly             321,496                                  2,081,388
Active Military Personnel                   290,000                                  120,000
Active Military Reserves                   1,675,000                               130,000
Towed Artillery                                 1,160                                        309

Tanks                                           2,005                                       126
Anti-Tank Guided Weapons              5,146                                       1,400

Navy Ships                                       49                                             120
Merchant Marine Strength                  112                                           428
Major Ports and Terminals                   4                                                6
Major Serviceable Airports                  40                                             254
Aircraft Carriers                                   0                                               0
Destroyers [3]                                    4                                               1
Frigates [ibid.]                                   22                                              3
Submarines                                       0                                               0
Total Aircraft                                    805                                          289
Patrol Coastal Aircraft                        93                                            128
Attack Helicopters                            282                                          159
Mine Warfare Craft                               4                                              0 
Amphibious Operations Craft              3                                             10

Foreign Reserves                               $390,600,000,000                $62,370,000,000
Purchasing Power                              $875,900,000,000                $351,400,000,000
Oil Production (in bbl*)                        830 bbl                                   9,671 bbl
Oil Consumption                                 834,000 bbl                             307,200 bbl
Proven Oil Reserves                            2,380,000 bbl                          168,000,000 bbl
Total Labor Force                               11,200,000                             38,900,000

Roadway Coverage                            41,475 km                              213,151 km
Railway Coverage                              1,580 km                                995 km
Waterway Coverage                           3,720 km                                3,219 km
Coastline Coverage                            1,566 km                                36,289 km

Here's my top 10 list of most in-demand jobs in the Philippines. The data here are based from the latest "Beyond the Numbers" report of National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) Secretary General Jose Ramon Albert.

10 - Chemical engineers

9 - Teaching Professionals for the handicapped and disabled

8 - Pharmacists

7 - Medical Technologists

6 - Industrial Engineers

5 - Electrical Engineers

4 - Mechanical Engineers

3 - Systems Analysts and Designers

2 - Electronics and Communication Engineers

1 - Accountants and auditors

Photo Credits:

Carl J. Single for the Special Education Teachers.
For the ninth installment of my Word of Thanks, I would like to extend my thanks to those people who read my articles and untiringly share it in the cyberspace both in their respective websites, blogs, and Facebook groups.

First up, many thanks to the website Empower Network for citing my DocStoc document on the “Senatorial Candidates for the 2013 Elections”.

Tara Sa Divisoria blog also cited my blog in an article they wrote about the rap battle scene in the Philippines.

Thanks to Higadu Blog also for citing my blog in their opinion article on the state of education in the Philippines.

For my article on the Anti-Cyber Crime Law, many thanks to fellow blogger Mr. C. for citing my blog.

In YouTube, I also would like to thank Ysaye02 Channel for acknowledging my blog as the source for my photo they included in their Orphans! video.
Many thanks to Exterra by Qure It, Inc. who featured my Top 10 Dengue Prevention Tips in Facebook.

Still in Facebook, I extend my thanks to Philippine Government Under Scrutiny for sharing my article entitled, “Top 10 Biggest Spenders in the Senate”.

This fellow sure gave me a surprise as I was checking out my Facebook account. I discovered that this guy named his album, “”. Thanks, dude.

Thanks to Facebook group, Showbiz Government for once again features my article (this time, the Top 10 Biggest Spenders in the Senate) in their 47,500-strong members.

Lastly, many thanks to Associate Solicitor General Karl Miranda for ushering me to a one-on-one meeting with the former Senator Aquilino Pimentel last month. It was one of the highlights of my stay at the OSG Summer Legal Internship Program.

A few more views and the blog would finally reach the 200,000 mark - thanks to all of you readers! Daghang Salamat!
Laws spell out what behavior is considered acceptable and what is not. Most countries also have their own unique laws. Here are some of the more unusual laws from around the globe.

1.    In Athens, Greece, only cars with odd-numbered license plates can drive in the city on odd-numbered days. Ofcourse, residents have gotten around this congestion-busting legislation by buying a second car with even-numbered plates so they can drive on both days.

2.    Don’t even think about training a bear to wrestle in Alabama, US. It is against the law.
3.    The sale of chewing gum is prohibited in Singapore. Gum is banned to counter the sticky problem of chewed gum residues on sidewalks and in subway stations.

4.    In Singapore, grown children are legally required to visit or support their aging moms and dads. The law is known as the “Maintenance of Parents Act” [2].

5.    Ordering a pizza to be delivered to a friend without telling them can be a costly prank in Louisiana, US. A $500 fine can be levied on anyone found guilty of ordering goods or services for another person without their permission.
6.    An old law in Mexico states that bicycle riders may not lift either foot from the pedals. The law was passed to ensure that cyclists don’t lose control of their bikes. But this makes me wonder:  how do they dismount without breaking the law?

7.    In Europe, some countries passed laws of “presumed consent” regarding body organs. Rather than requesting that a person donate his organs in the event of an accident, the state assumed the right to harvest his organs unless he or his family specifically opted out [3].
8.    In the middle of the 19th century, an English law forbids people from flying kites in the street. This law was passed to help combat antisocial behavior in the rapidly expanding cities.

9.    You cannot walk around in public if you have a cold in Washington State, US.  It is a misdemeanor to be in a public place if you have a contagious or infectious disease.
A little disclaimer: This is not a saguaro cactus. This is Togemon.
10. Cutting down a cactus in Arizona, United States, could land you in jail for 25 years. The saguaro cactus is an endangered species, so local lawmakers have taken measures to protect it.

[1] Adapted from: "Law Tour" from Nottage, Claire, et al. (2007). "Do Not Open: An Encyclopedia of the World's Best-Kept Secrets". New York: DK Publishing, Inc.
[2] “Unbelievable Stories About Apathy and Altruism” from Levitt, Steven D. and Stephen J. Dubner (2009). “Super Freakonomics”. New York: William Morrow. p.106.
 [3] Ibid. p.111.