WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Gail Ilagan’s “zoo time”

From behind bars he sees an endless parade of female "supporters" out to ogle him, desperately wishing to touch hands, maybe talk to him so they could faithfully catch his words enough to quote them verbatim and out of context for the late night news.

Ho-hum. Celebrity hunters. Philippine version of the paparazzi.

Too bad for the baby boy, he can't pick among these willing candidates vying for his attention now. He can look, yeah. Perhaps make a promise here or two. So near and yet so far. Now maybe he is wondering how he ever got to be so desperate that a quick one on the back seat of the van sounded like a good idea then.

To my observation, there is no end to the long line of ladies who now have ants to have been in Nicole's pants that Halloween night. Enough so that it is turning out to be a catfight on TV night after night after night. Such unseemly jungle behavior. Don't these ladies have anything better to do than to preen for the camera in faux sympathy for Smith, the convicted rapist? Look at them pretending to read books(!) while waiting for their turn at the bars. Man, those books look like they need brains to work out. Never mind, pretend it's a fashion magazine. Make like, make like.

You know why the internet service crashed the last few days? Well, gee, there was this email purportedly from Missouri that caused the internet relays to react ¨C logically ¨C in outraged disgust. The email was about a little orphan now spending time in the zoo when his parents could not be bothered to be with him for Christmas.

Predictably, the recipients took it as license granted to play surrogate parents, so they left their own families to fend for themselves and rushed with embarrassing haste to the zoo. Then, they just needed to tell the world how noble they were for acting on their charitable intentions. Look, all ¨C all it takes is an email from an unverified source for the girls to go on a mercy mission. They go where the cameras are. Unfortunately, in the mad scramble they left home without bringing their dignity and their brains along.

Where did their brains go?

Oh, right. Well, I guess brains deserve a holiday, too. Okay. But dignity? Oh, puh-leeze – a little dignity, please, from all the dalagang Pilipina sa linya ni Maria Clara now lining up to pet the newest prize monkey at the Makati City Zoo ¨C I mean, Jail.

Hey, rewind that footage. Isn't that Mother Lily's talent scout making out like he/she could read, too? And what's that he/she's got peeking out of his/her pocket? That suspiciously looks like a movie contract! Gee, I wonder how they scripted that rape scene. What? They're trying to get Nicole to play the role on screen? Really???!

This is positively tasteless. No more, okay? Many out there keep watching the blow by tasteless blow account of the continuing Subic rape case saga because "there's nothing else to watch on TV." Well, gee, if the circus and the jungle and the zoo are not worth watching, switch the thing off. Why be willing victims to ghoulish purveyors of bad taste? Get a life.

I also wish for once Nicole and her mom would just shut up and let Evalyn Ursua do the talking. But I guess that's hard to do when the press crashes your noche buena to report on (ta-da!) what's on your table. The grasping attention might just be enough to make Nicole and her mom believe they are celebrities after all and that the nation really needs to know all this stuff about their personal circumstance.

Nicole says she wants to move on. Well, by golly gee, don't we all? Someone please remind her that she can't move on until she refuses to let the muckraking press drag her back into the role of La Señorita Dolorosa. You won, Nicole. Might as well parlay that victory – fleeting as it may well be- in a fortune from auctioning Halloween jeans and underwear. I'll buy the first offering as soon as Nicole puts it in the market. Unmask that face, put it in a poster that says: He'd go to jail for these pants.

Go, girl.

Seriously. Nicole is in the position to put to good use some of those marketing theories she was taught. That way she can recoup the cost of litigation and give her mama back her retirement fund. It's past the time for approval-seeking behavior anyway. For better or worse, girls who graduate from the school of bad breaks can't ever again be the sweet, innocent girls they were before.

Move on, Nicole, move on. You are a helpless victim to media hype only when you allow it to control your life. Stop whining and kick ass. If you'd only sat in my class when you had the chance four years back, I won't have to be telling you this only now.

Okay, so with Smith in a Makati City Zoo ¨C er, Jail – for raping Nicole, the US of A is threatening to pull out its VFA troops. Are we supposed to cry over that? Those troops had been there in Zamboanga and Sulu for some years now. Guess what? So had been the Abu Sayyaf and probably the Al-Qaeda. So tell me what difference does it make whether the American VFA troops are there or not?

No Balikatan this year, they say. Who are they trying to kid? Their soldiers have little interest in shoulders anyway.

A little dignity, please. Just because the Americans want to be here doesn't mean we have to convince them on the back seat of a van that this indeed is where we desperately want them to be.

We are not as desperate as some of them and some of us would want to believe. (Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan's column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to [email protected] email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it "Send at the risk of a reply," she says.)

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