Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Generating Heat

In professional wrestling parlance, it's called "generating heat." Being the scripted entertainment that it is, wrestlers rely less on their physical prowess than on various gimmicks to stay in the fans' visibility. And so, if a wrestler wants to rise in popularity, the trick is simple: pick a fight. It doesn't matter with whom. Anyone will do. Just pick a fight.

That seems to be the overall stratagem of the Arroyo administration of late. In the absence of any issue of substance, it's resorted to cheap gimmicks to generate heat. Just a few weeks back, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo vowed to go after rice hoarders, and for a while, the front pages were rife with inspections and arrests. Around the same time, Gen. Angelo Reyes called for an energy summit and demanded to know why fuel prices were so high.

And so the public relations offensive continues: GSIS bigwig Winston Garcia is taking Meralco to task for high energy costs and "lack of transparency"; and over in Congress, Prospero Nograles has floated the idea of free text messaging. It's gearing up to be a big battle royale : the government in one corner and big business -- the oil companies, the telcos, and the Lopez utility-media empire -- in the other.

In a match like this, there's little doubt as to who's the face and who's the heel. The cards are lined up so that we know who it is we're supposed to be cheering for. And yet, why do the bleachers seem awfully quiet?

Answer: we're not marks. We know that, for all the amusing antics, it's fake. It's all fake.

Food prices continue to be at an all-time high. Fuel prices have been going up by P1 a week, and may soon follow a twice-weekly schedule. Whither the drive against hoarders? Whither the energy summit? For all the huffing and puffing today, tomorrow energy prices will still be high and text messaging will still cost.

It's not that these matters do not deserve attention, it's that the focus now is unwarranted, misplaced, and mistimed. There are other more serious issues that until now remain unaddressed, issues that burrow deep into our collective soul.

Government clowns now may caper about with populist posturing, but this is not entertainment.

We are not amused.