Manila, 10 May—Happy Mother’s Day to you and yours! Whether we are quarantined with our mothers or quarantined away from them, this year’s COVID-19 affected celebrations are truly one for the books. Whether you’re ordering cake from online sellers or teaching your moms how to use filters on video chat—I suppose it’s the thought that counts, most especially this year, with many of us unable to turn to our tried-and-tested celebratory avenues (family Mass + brunches and dessert at the mall!). So we are forced to be a bit creative this year, I guess.

Earlier this week, I happened across the sister team’s Mother’s Day video, which unexpectedly is a tugger—you have been warned. Mother’s Day has always been a bit different for us since our mother passed, but now that more of us are spending Mother’s Day away—some not even by choice, but by unfortunate circumstance—I’m sending you virtual hugs at this time.


Anyway. When I first saw that video, it was earlier this week, and I could not immediately parse it because at around the same time, the NTC ordered ABS-CBN to stop airing after its franchise expired on May 4.

Needless to say, this week has been nuts. I could not believe that this government would still have the bandwidth to accommodate another issue outside of the current pandemic. It’s ridiculous. It was a dramatic shutdown—TV Patrol aired earlier, and signed off with Lupang Hinirang at 8pm. Lupang Hinirang during primetime! I never thought I would live to see the day, and yet here we are.

This is not by any chance a new move for the government—it has done the same to print (Inquirer), online (Rappler) and now, TV and Radio (ABS-CBN and DZMM). The lengths it would go to intimidate the press and decrease information sources at a time when it is crucial is insane. If you still think the government is not actively working against its citizens, I think you are choosing to ignore a lot of things.

Anyway, ABS-CBN has continued its reportage and shifted it online—talk about having the grandest online launch ever, thanks to this government that (unwittingly?) gave it an extraordinary boost. On its first day online, TV Patrol garnered 8 million views on Facebook—I hope ABS-CBN is not considering a tie-up with Facebook, because really the LAST thing we need is for it to be beholden to Facebook algorithms and other manipulative elements.


Meanwhile, the government is looking at another extension of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Metro Manila, which is supposedly ending on May 15th. Because yes, behind the government’s obsession about controlling and muzzling the press is still, of course, the government’s COVID-19 response.

There is much talk about “flattening the curve”—the DOH says we appear to already be doing so, noting that the “doubling time, or the time it takes for a metric to increase two-fold, has increased significantly for both new cases and deaths.” I’m only half-hearted about this, considering that there are delays in DOH data because of test backlogs—I’m not entirely sure their dataset is at this time reliable—or at least reliable enough to guide policy. Also add the fact that we’re not yet massively testing. If anything, many of us are not confident that we can safely lift the ECQ and not get sick while commuting to work or what-not.

Sigh. Anyway: Here’s a good Filipino explanation re: flattening the curve. Also another tweet thread explainer I found useful.

Ang Huling El Bimbo

Lastly, just a few words on Ang Huling El Bimbo, which was available on YouTube for free from May 8-9: Strong performances, great songs, disappointing storyline.

I agree that it should have contained trigger warnings for rape. I am done watching female characters get abused so that the male characters can have their character development.

I thought we were getting a story about growing up and getting disillusioned! There are probably a bajillion ways to tell a disillusionment story, and I’m just sad they went with this one.

Gab Pangilinan though—what a powerhouse! Thoroughly enjoyed the ensemble performance, but the storyline was my main obstacle. I’m not asking for a happy ending—though it would have been damn well deserved, you have two characters named Joy and Ligaya!—I’m just asking for a good nuanced story that did not just throw around rape as a shock element. Plus, newsflash: The whole ‘Inang Bayan = rape’ symbolism is old and tired. Let’s try out new ones!

Again, once more with feeling: Your female characters are not there so that your male characters can have “growth”! I’m pretty sure your male characters could do the growing on their own—this is actually also a disservice to them!

Anyway, let’s end with something nice and beautiful, from the late poet Eavan Boland, who recently passed:

Happy Mother’s Day!