Craig Nelson introduces his book Rocketmen, with the story of a 1969 United States Senate briefing (shortly after Apollo 11 landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon) where Fermilab physicist Robert Wilson is asked how a $250 million atom smasher he proposes be built will contribute to the security of the United States. Wilson responded by saying that it will contribute nothing, but that the American people’s capacity to undertake endeavours like those is what makes the United States of America worth defending.
That was a physicist asking Uncle Sam for 250 million in 1969 US dollars to build a particle accelerator for research purposes. Asked why, he gave a convincing answer in no more than one sentence.
Yesterday, Filipinos woke up to the front page of the Sunday Inquirer splashed with the image of Pinoy Ako Blog personality Jover Laurio and the caption “Filipinos of the Year”. And so, we are told by the nation’s biggest newspaper, that a “blogger” who writes “witty” one-liners (going as far as the term “wit” is defined by her followers) in between images and memes that she calls “resibos” (proofs of receipt) leads a select group of people who epitomise achievement in this nation of more than 100 million.
Filipinos should then ask themselves: Should the fact that their society had produced a Jover Laurio justify sending its soldiers to defend them against bloodthisty terrorists in Marawi City?
If every Filipino suddenly becomes like Jover Laurio, would you be willing to die for said Filipinos?
What has gotten over the editors of the Inquirer? For decades, Filipinos have aspired to at least come up with a longer-lasting lightbulb to justify their “pride” as a people on the world stage. So desperate was the search for some semblance of acollective achievement they could truly call their own that they quickly latched on to a “fake history” account of how a certain Filipino named Juan de la Floresente invented fluorescent lighting. Though the sight of a people with practically zero track record of scientific, technological or industrial achievement aspiring to invent some kind of mechanical or electrical device is quite laughable at best, at least the aspiration is down the right direction.
As such Jover Laurio put up as “Filipino of the Year” takes Philippine society even further backward. Filipinos should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this.
The world today is a competitive place. People and businesses differentiate themselves on the basis of what value they contribute to humanity. Success is built upon finding solutions to problems and making the people who you convince to invest in the development of those solutions rich. Jover Laurio represents none of those things. Whilst she has a strong following of adoring fans, most of them follow her on the sole basis of her partisan leanings. When you ask them what it is specifically about Laurio’s work that contributes to humanity’s collective intelligence, you get retarded responses for your trouble.
In short, Laurio’s followers follow or believe first before they subject what they follow or believe to critical scrutiny. Under the harsh light of real critical scrutiny, Laurio’s work will fail to even warrant a second look. This is a fact her followers seem to conveniently sidestep when challenged. More importantly, this is how “fake news” gets widely-spread to begin with — ironic, considering Laurio is being lauded for her supposed role in “fighting fake news”.
It is therefore no surprise that the Philippines consistently fails to make its mark as a member of the global community. We see the root of this continued failure in Filipinos’ choice of “Filipino of the Year”. There are many Filipinos who have achieved something that directly translates to their countrymen feeling safer, prouder, even richer. Jover Laurio delivers none of these beyond the perception created by the dishonest editors of the Inquirer.