Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Risking Life and Limb

When I first saw this picture of girl carrying the Philippine flag as murky floodwater flowed past her legs and a typhoon raged around her, I had two thoughts. The idealist in me thought it was inspiring. The cynic in me thought it would be great propaganda material.

And then I read the real story behind that picture.

Apparently, Janela Arcos Lelis, a 12-year-old from Albay, was asked by her brother to retrieve the flag since it had been entrusted to him by the school. Risking her life, Janela waded through chest-deep water to perform the task. Weeks later, she was honored by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and was given P20,000.

So what's wrong with that, Squiddo?

First of all, she probably didn't save the flag for any nationalistic reason. Her brother told her to do it and she did it probably because she's afraid the school would make her brother pay for the lost flag.

Second, she risked her life to retrieve the flag. Risked her life. For a piece of cloth. I love this beautiful-but-in-a-lot-of-ways-utterly-shitty country but I can think of other ways of helping it than risking my life for a flag that could be bought from a store. That is a flag, not the plans for a cheaper and more effective solar cell. Drowning in a flood for a flag would not save the country from foreign invaders hell-bent on trampling her sacred shores. Drowning in a flood means your opportunity to become a valuable citizen of the Philippines effectively ends.

Propaganda like this is necessary in a time of war, I suppose, because we would all need to think like Terminators devoid of doubt in the cause, guilt in the atrocities needed to be inflicted upon the enemy, and any sense of self-preservation. But we are not in a time of war. We don't need empty propaganda and totem-worship. We need members of society who will give back something real to the country.


  1. You were probably jerkin' it while she was doin' that. Feelin' useless, eh? :)

  2. I would reply but I don't really know what the fuck you're talking about. Jerkin'? Doin'? Feelin'? Either the G key on your keyboard is broken or you're trying too hard.

  3. If this exchange of thoughts continue, people might see a rebirth of 'squid vs simpletons' posts. We miss that :(