Saturday, November 24, 2007

Liar! Liar!

Here's my youngblood article published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) three years ago. I was a writing teaching in DLSU that time, and I wrote this piece as a means to apply concretely the theories I was teaching to my students. Of course, I was also dying to see my byline in the pages of the PDI. The 900 pesos I got from PDI was just a bonus!

It was my first attempt to be published. I never thought that I will see this article in print some weeks ago after sending it via e-mail.

Some epilogues:

When it saw print, the dean whom I was talking about told my former colleagues that it's good that I didn't drop his name for he would surely sue me if I did.

I was again reunited with the Yahoo group I was referring here, after one of the moderators (who eventually became a good friend) sent me an invite. I immediately accepted it.

I resigned from DLSU to return to the seminary.

Liar! Liar!
By Donnie Duchin E. Duya
YOU contributor

If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.--Mark Twain

HAVE you ever wondered why Filipino is peppered with a lot of euphemisms? Well, I have a strong feeling that this has something to do with our values and even our culture.

No, it's not adequately explained by saying we are sensitive about others' feelings. I believe that our frequent resort to euphemisms is actually intended to hide some unpleasant realities or facts. And I am afraid that as a result, our society is starting to lose one very important value: honesty.

When I say this, I am not just talking about the starlet who not very long ago lied about her age despite being so very obviously much older than she claimed. The general who amassed millions of pesos during his stint in the military service is another example. And so is the feisty senator who unabashedly admitted, "I lied!" and broke out into loud laughter right in front of television cameras.

The three examples are the more recent and more infamous ones. But the most glaring evidence that we are losing this outstanding virtue can be found in the everyday conduct of Filipinos.

We don't have to look far. The weighing scales in the public market have long been known as a device for cheating. A more recent version of fraud has been found in some gasoline stations that were underselling to unsuspecting motorists. Jeepney drivers also have the nasty habit of "forgetting" to give the change to their passengers.

Cheating is also quite common inside classrooms. A few years back the bar examinations were tainted by the leakage of questions. So with the licensure examinations for teachers. And to think that these two professions are among the most highly respected in our society.

Apparently it doesn't pay to be honest these days. When I was a member of the faculty of a popular computer school, I once corrected a glaring grammatical error in an announcement by the dean plastered all over our campus. Although I did so with all the tact I could muster, I
paid dearly for it. The dean badmouthed me in front of my colleagues, and our relationship never improved since then.

I also recall my experience with a Yahoo group after I asked the moderator to improve the way he was administering the site. He sent me a sarcastic private e-mail, and before I knew it, I had been kicked out of the group. And the members of the group were told that I had been unceremoniously removed for being disrespectful.

I am aware that some of our countrymen are striving hard to lead clean and honest lives. The driver in New York who returned tens of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry left in his cab immediately comes to my mind. But after that, I am hard put to come up with other examples.

Last month, I was shocked to read that a Catholic bishop was adding his voice to those who were proposing to legalize jueteng. He argued that since some government officials were making money out of the illegal numbers game, Congress should just legalize it to remove one rich source of graft and corruption.

The media have not been spared of accusations of dishonesty. In fact, the terms "envelopmental journalism" and "AC-DC ''(attack and collect, defend and collect) are now part of the dictionary of local journalism.

I could give a thousand of other examples, but my point should now be clear: Honesty seems to be going out of fashion in these parts. Or am I just focusing too much on some sporadic instances of dishonest behavior?

It seems to me that kids learn the art of lying early and Justify Fullin the comfort of their homes. Quite often, parents just dismiss lies as cute and inconsequential mischief. But whether we call them white lies or whatever color, they remain acts of dishonesty.

Often the call is made to rid society of thieving, bribery and graft and corruption. But reform, like charity, should begin at home.

Donnie Duchin E. Duya, 26, finished his MPS in development communication at the UP-Open University and now teaches English at De La Salle University.