Manuel “Jun” Urbano is the 2023 Gawad Plaridel Awardee of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communications (UP-CMC).
In reviving the prestigious award post-pandemic, UP-CMC couldn’t have honored a better media man.
Urbano mastered three fields. He produced films “Juan Tamad and Mr. Shooli” and “M.O.N.A.Y.”
He directed ads, like San Miguel Beer’s notable “Isang Platitong Manê”. He starred on television as Mr. Shooli of “Mongolian Barbecue”, parodies of hot issues.
Urbano sent Mr. Shooli to read his acceptance speech on Oct. 11th. The latter left the draft in the taxi and so extemporized.
Mr. Shooli recounted copping a student exchange program to Manila in the early ’50s.
He enrolled at Ateneo De La Salle where he met Erap: “Grade 1 pa lang kami may bigote na siya. May wristband din para raw malaman kung ano ang kaliwa at kanang kamay niya.”
Once, the teacher asked Shooli to spell “success”. He whispered to Erap if there’s one or two s’s at the end. Erap advised him to put in three, “para sigurado.”
Shooli observed Filipinos: “Masayahin, matatag. Bagyo, lindol, baha, Pilipino tatawa lang.
“Mapagbigay. Kung may bisita sa bahay, gawa paraan para maligaya. Sa master’s bedroom pinapatulog.
“Matulungin sa kapwa — nagbabayanihan.
“Pilipino mahal ang Diyos, the only Christian country in southeast Asia.
“Pilipino very respectful. Sa wika niyo may ‘opo’ at ‘oho’ to address elders. Applaud yourselves.”
In 1946 right after the War, Shooli recalled, the Philippine economy was second only to Japan’s.
It had a national airline. Indonesians, Malaysians, and Vietnamese who wanted to become doctors studied at the University of Santo Tomas. For agriculture and animal husbandry, they went to the International Rice Research Institute and the University of the Philippines.
At the end of the exchange program, Shooli returned to destitution in the northlands. He heard that Erap was kicked out of the second year of high school.
Still, Erap became president: “Nasipa uli nu’ng 2nd year na pangulo siya.”
Mr. Shooli returned to Manila on a classmate’s invitation with complimentary plane fare to a reunion.
He was excited to see the beautiful country he so admired. He imagined Filipinos progressing by leaps and bounds during his 70-year absence.
Unable to sleep, Shooli kept asking the flight steward where they were flying over: Alaska, Arabia, etc.
Hours later his seatmate stuck a hand out the porthole and said they must be in Manila. How did he know? His wristwatch got snatched.
“Sa airport inspeksyon ng Customs apat maleta ko. Paglabas ko sa airport, isa na lang maleta ko,” Mr. Shooli sighed.
“Sakay ako taksi, sobra trapik! Nakita ko sign: ‘Bawal magtapon ng basura.’ Pero sa paligid dami basura. Meron isa pa: ‘Bawal umihi dito.’ Pero mga lalaki ipinipirma pa ihi nila sa pader. Overtake kami sa motorcycle, riding in tandem. Binaril nila sa ulo yung tao.
“Am I in Philippines? This is not Philippines I know! Hindi ganito Pilipino.
“Tapos sa TV news panood ko raid sa shabu den. ‘Hoy, mga shabu pusher, suko na kayo, mga pulis ito.’ Sagot ng ni-raid nila, ‘Hindi kami susuko, mga pulis din kami.’
“Noong araw, Pilipinas no. 1 exporter ng sugar. Ngayon world’s no. 1 importer of rice. Pati gulay, onion, galunggong import. Pilipinas puro isla paligid ng dagat, pero bakit import ng isda, pati asin? Pilipino naghihirap. Pero may kumikita sa paghihirap nila.
“May export ang Pilipino. Export niyo si nanay, export niyo si tatay, export niyo si ate at kuya — OFW. Ang kanila kinikita pampalutang sa economy. Tawag sa kanila ‘mga bagong bayani’. But at what sacrifice? Minsan bagong bayani niyo umuuwi sa Pilipinas nasa kabaong; pinatay ng employer. Minsan umuuwi sila sa sirang pamilya. Kasi walang hanapbuhay sa Philippines.
“Pulitika niyo no. 1 pinakawalanghiya. Nu’ng araw democracy: government of the people, for the people, by the people. Ngayon government of a few people, for a few people, by a few people.
“There are 110 million Filipinos. Senators niyo 24 lang. Dalawa pares magkapatid, isang pares mag-ina. Merong ex-convict, meron plunderer, meron involved sa extrajudicial killings. Nu’ng araw mga politiko niyo sina Manglapuz, Pelaez, Osias, Rodrigo, mga kagalang-galang. Ngayon mga politiko niyo kagulang-gulang.
“Ano nangyari? ‘Di ba kayo pumipili sa kanila? What happened to you?
“Alam niyo ba kaibahan ng ordinary thief at political thief? Ordinary thief pumipili sino nanakawan niya. Political thief kayo ang pumipili ku’ng sino nananakaw sainyo.
“Eighty-percent Christian daw Pilipino. Pero may pulitiko diyan sabi, ‘who is this stupid God?’ He called your God stupid, wala kayo imik. Okey lang?
“Tao ngayon wala nang sense of value. Parang ‘yung dalawang naglalakad sa bukid. Nakita nila carabao dung; tinikman nila; natiyak nila na carabao dung; buti na lang daw hindi nila naapakan.
“Politiko main problem niyo. Hindi sila public service, self-service na. Pagkatapos mag-presidente tatakbo pa mayor, ayaw mawalan ng puwesto. Si Congressman Manhik-Manaog termed out na, kaya tatakbo governor. Tanong ko sakanya ku’ng lalabanan niya misis niya na governor ngayon. Sabi niya, ‘Hindi, misis ko takbo senador.’
“Eh sino takbo congressman pamalit sayo? Sagot niya, ‘Yung anak kong panganay na mayor.’
“Sino tatakbo mayor? Sabi niya, ‘Yung bunso namin na konsehal.’
“Sabi ko sa kanya, galing-galing niyo, politika hanapbahay ng pamilya niyo. ‘Yong aso mo na lang walang pwesto ah. Sagot niya, ‘Hoy wag mo malitiin aso namin, barangay chairman ‘yan.'”
Mr. Shooli concluded: “I remember what one of your National Artists Manuel Conde told me about Filipinos. If you want your patient to get well but he refuses to take the bitter pill, patawanin mo. Pagbukas ng bibig niya isubo mo ang gamot sa kanya.”
Thus did Mr. Shooli satirize today’s Filipino.
Jarius Bondoc is an award-winning Filipino journalist and author based in Manila. He writes opinion pieces for The Philippine Star and Pilipino Star Ngayon and hosts a radio program on DWIZ 882 every Saturday. Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8 to 10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).
The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LICAS News.