As the mind, so the mouth
We don’t need a Sigmund Freud to tell us that what comes out of one’s mouth—be it a slip, a flub, interjections of surprise, anger or joy, and other puzzling, shocking utterances—can reveal something about one’s state of mind and heart. What more when the utterances are plain offensive, and the utterer incorrigible, unapologetic?
Almost 2,000 years ago, someone named Jesus was already preaching about what comes in and out of one’s mouth: “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders…” And: “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” There’s more where these came from.
And so when a campaigning presidential candidate, Rodrigo Duterte, recalled last week to a crowd a 1989 hostage-taking incident in a Davao City prison facility and how a female Australian missionary working among the prisoners was repeatedly raped and killed, he expressed anger but also added in so many words that he, as the mayor, should have had the privilege to be the first in line to her body. She was movie-star beautiful, he emphasized.
I was dumbfounded.
Duterte and his apologists have backtracked a bit by saying it was uttered in anger (?) then. So what was the sense in repeating the same offensive line 26 years later? To regale the crowd? Was the story such a delectable story to tell? I do not believe that it was uttered then and repeated now as a joke, as some people think it was. Joke or not, it was plain cruel —to the dead, her fellow hostages, her family, her compatriots, women, and those who respect them.
This was not the first time Duterte unleashed gender-offensive lines and dished out jokes with sexual overtones. Expletives? Plenty. Even Pope Francis and his mother got cussed.
No, he will not apologize, Duterte said as of this writing. Take it or leave it. No breast-beating for him, just more chest-thumping. Nobody controls his mouth, he made it clear. Love me, love my mouth.
What can one say? As the mind, so the mouth.
Gutter language, he calls it, harking back to his so-called humble beginnings. Humble beginnings? But didn’t he attend exclusive boys’ schools at some time in his life? Granted that he tries to identify with the poor of this world, but does he think gutter language defines the poor? The humble folk who struggle to rise above penury and achieve life with dignity should be insulted. Why equate poverty with rudeness and boorishness, with kabastusan?
Duterte (called “Dudirty” by his critics) is the kind of president we deserve, if we are to go by the cheers of the crowd he wows and the explanations of his apologists, among them a bar topnotcher and senator. How have we come to this? Some call him “Do30,” which might have been coined by journalists and those who know what 30 means, not barring divine intervention, fire and brimstone from the sky, and other apocalyptic occurrences.
That Duterte might not really be that interested in the presidency is not a totally wild conclusion. He was a reluctant candidate in the beginning who had to be constantly pushed. He gave a grudging yes but after he did, it looked like there was no turning back. Does he now secretly wish he did not get into this? Why the self-destructive statements that turn off rather than attract voters?
On the other extreme, is he preparing us for a Duterte-style presidency, a “vigilante”-style leadership reminiscent of his Davao brand of managing a city? Boasting of his Davao exploits (e.g., shooting down criminals, no questions asked), he is foil to Vice President Jejomar Binay who boasts of his own Makati City exploits. The Binays (the VP, wife Elenita, son Junjun) have ruled Makati for more than two decades. A daughter is now a senator, while another daughter, the congresswoman, is now running for Makati mayor after her brother was removed and is now facing charges of corruption. But the Dutertes (father and daughter, interchangeably or in tandem) also ruled Davao City uninterrupted.
If this were a movie, it would be titled “Iyo ang Makati, Akin ang Davao,” starring fast-drawing actors spewing quotes like “Isang bala ka lang!” that make moviegoers’ adrenaline rise.
But the campaign season is not a movie. Candidates know that the crowds are entitled to some entertainment, but to dish out offensive quotes, cruel jokes and insulting spiels, and to present lewd numbers are condescending. It could even backfire on them. The loudness of the laughter and howling is not necessarily indicative of votes. Those in the crowd will go home and recount what they heard and saw, the scandalous sounds and sights among them.
The health of Duterte’s mind is one thing, and is obvious. What about the wellness of his body? Didn’t he drop intimations about his mortality? While presidential candidate Miriam Defensor Santiago openly admits she has Stage 4 lung cancer, Duterte has not disclosed his state of health. Nor have the three other presidential candidates.
There is a clamor for the presidential and vice presidential candidates to disclose their state of health and their staying power. For starters, why not submit their blood samples? For DNA testing, if necessary. Just to make sure some of them are not related to each other.
For Duterte followers, some quotes from the Buddha:
“The thought manifests as the word. The word manifests as the deed. The deed develops into habit. And the habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care.”
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow. Our life is the creation of our mind.”
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