2009 was not exactly a good year for the Philippines, but we did have our shining moments thanks to great Filipinos whose names will forever be honored for proving to the world that we are a world-class people.
People like boxer guy, pushcart teacher guy, Snoopy-wearing singer girl, and that hip hop dance crew have helped prove that our nation is more than just one of servants.
But while Dr. Manny Pacquaio has proven that Filipinos make the best boxers, allegations of an affair with Krista Ranillo, his refusal to take random drug tests, and his foray into politics make him a pretty sketchy character.
CNN Hero of the Year Efren Penaflorida is cool and all that, but honoring him sends the message that government can slack off because volunteers with pushcarts can take the place of actual teachers and classrooms. His is an inspiring story that manages to also be sort of depressing.
Charice Pempengco is halfway American already, and the JabbaWockeeZ aren’t even Filipino anymore despite their Friendster-ish spelling skills.
We believe that the Filipino of the Year should symbolize not just the Filipino spirt, but also the Filipino dream: to come from humble beginnings, go through hardships, and gain international recognition as the best of the best.
And, really, not even boxer guy satisfies those criteria better than our winner: the lechon. I mean, come on. A pig has to live in squalor, fatten and die just for a lechon to come into being.
Judged the best pig by top chef/badass Anthony Bourdain, the lechon has a place in the heart (and rest of circulatory system) of many Filipinos, and is as reliable a barometer of prosperity as the Coca-Cola Index. So much so that both ABS-CBN and GMA devoted news segments on the sale of lechon for Christmas Eve festivities.
Although essentially the same story down to their resource person, that the giant networks interrupted coverage of massacres, sea tragedies and a weak economy is a telling thing. Don’t worry, the field reporters said, lechon is still selling well. And as long as we have that, things aren’t so bad.