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30 September 2011

Nora Aunor's Evil Agenda for Young Filipinos

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A satire, sort of…

Nora Aunor smokes. Get over it.  If you think a magazine cover of her holding a cigarette is a bad influence on today’s youth, then you are publicly stoning the wrong woman. Nevertheless, demonizing the superstar does have media mileage and it is a guarantee that you will get a piece of the media ham whether you decry her "sinful" images or defend her.  Since I am a professional ham peddler myself, here is my piece of meat.

Is a magazine cover of a maturing thespian with a cigarette on her hand the most damaging image?  Does this “evil” image trick our youth into a life of nicotine addiction?  Should we also consider the countless whitening commercials that regularly bombard our television airwaves?

In a country where people predominantly have beautiful brown skin, whitening lotions and pills are openly being peddled to teenagers.  Do these commercials not send a clear message that the key to happiness, success in both life and love is to have whiter, fairer skin? In fact, it does not just stop at being white; it has to be pinkish white, pinkish Caucasian white.  Is this not a form of internal racism? Are there subliminal messages in these whitening advertisements? Does having dark skin make you inadequate as a person, inferior compared to a fair-skinned mestiza?  Is this the message we want our youth to receive? 

Cigarette smoking definitely damages the lungs. However, what do these whitening products [and the mentality they peddle] damage?  Is it just the skin or our pride as beautiful brown people? I have fair skin but I think it is not because I am divinely blessed by the Caucasian god, the angels and saints that littered the walls of my church. I think it is because some horny Spanish friar blessed one of my female ancestors with his heavenly profusion.

But I digress.

Let us return to the topic at hand.  How about the countless alcohol commercials being endorsed by the most testosterone fueled hunky movie stars, virile musicians and womanizing athletes? Do these advertisements on alcoholic beverages not entice the young men to drink?  You are not macho if you do not have a drink in your hand and a sexy model in skimpy shorts by your side.  Did we hear some protests from the Philippine Medical Association (PMA)? Was there a running priest or skipping or strolling or may be just a causally walking priest that went on television and aired his great disappointment at Manny Pacquiao, Derek Ramsay, Ding Dong Dantes, Michael V or even Mommy Dionisia?  Why was Mommy Dionisia not declared as an unfit mother for encouraging his son to drink? Wasn’t Mommy Dionisia seen on television by countless children and teenagers serving drinks to his son and his other macho friends?

Statistically speaking, many criminal acts have been committed by individuals heavily intoxicated by alcohol.  How many innocent people have been killed by countless drunk drivers? Has there anybody been raped, physically attacked, robbed or molested because of excessive inhalation of Marlboro Lights?  Has anybody been hit by a smoking driver?  Why demonize smoking when alcohol drinking has more power to turn a timid man into an irrational lunatic?

Why do we criticize Nora for a book-size picture when there used to be giant billboards of Ding Dong Dantes and Richard Gutierrez endorsing alcoholic drinks? I live in Valenzuela City and every day I pass along the San Miguel Brewery on MacArthur Highway. I regularly see these huge billboards of San Miguel products endorsed by macho celebrities. I just see images of happy drinking men and a sexy Sam Pinto in blue bathing suit holding a bottle of beer.  There is no article to accompany these images or explain why these men are having fun or why Sam Pinto has to show some skin while holding a beer?  Nora’s cover shoot has an article.

Anne Curtis (1) also appeared in a magazine cover and she was holding a cigarette. In fact, she was not even wearing a bra. The photo shoot was artfully done in “Gay Paree.”  Miss Curtis never looked so sophisticated, classy and enticing. Did anyone protest her magazine cover?  Did a priest or members of a medical association voice their disapproval?  Isn’t it because Anne Curtis photo shoot was done in Paris and Nora Aunor’s was probably done in some municipal? Miss Curtis is younger than Miss Aunor so we can logically assume that Miss Curtis has more young fans. Am I out of touch or do 16-year old girls scream more when they see Nora on television than when they see Anne? Is Katy Perry trailing behind our brown-skinned provincial diva too?

I respect Nora as an artist but I am not a fan. I am more of a Gina Alana fan.  However, criticizing Nora Aunor will not stop smokers from smoking. As a smoker, I can tell you that you are just encouraging us. You might have even given us a new icon.  Smoking is dangerous to our health. We know that. We also know that smoking can cause many diseases, one of which is lung cancer.  Now, some of us are very polite smokers. We make sure we only smoke in designated areas and we avoid giving non-smoker second-hand smoke.  Some smokers are a-holes but so do some non-smokers.  Being a non-smoker does not immune you from inanity.  Now, I quit smoking in the past. Did I feel healthy? Yes, especially as I regularly rode tricycles going to work and I inhaled the black smoke coming from the jeepneys in front of me.  That healthful black smoke coming from diesel-fed aging vehicle because unleaded is excessively expensive for our beloved jeepney drivers. Why is gasoline pricey at all?  Why indeed.

People smoke for many reasons. One is peer pressure and, yes, images from media.  Therefore, if you want to blame images, do not center on smokers. Blame all harmful images.  Lambast Nora. Lambast every other celebrity that negatively influences our youth.

Sometimes people start smoking for the stupidest reasons but they continue to smoke for more complex reasons than peer pressure and images.  If images were all it takes to make a smoker quit, then all those pictures of cancerous putrid lungs on packages of cigarettes would have stopped many from smoking. People are not as black and white as Nora's and Anne Curtis’ magazine covers.

Now, you want to curb the number of people smoking? Here is one piece of advice from a smoker.

Tax cigarette heavily:  I mean government should really tax it down to its ass.  The price of cigarettes in this country is so low.  My Korean friends smoke here more than they do in Korea. To them, smoking here is a bargain. In other countries, a pack of regular cigarettes is almost 200 pesos. Tax cigarettes so a smoker has to spend 200 pesos a day just to satisfy his nicotine fix.  Then, use the tax revenue to fund crucial government projects. Why stop at cigarettes? Tax alcohol too. I am all for it.

The big question is: "Why has the government not increased taxes on cigarettes and alcohol? I think the answer is obvious. Just follow the money, the election funding and a name with less than five syllables. We know the real reason.

I would not mind paying 200 pesos to feed my addiction. It is my addiction. Get over it.  It is my lungs. Get over it.  I may put a cigarette in my mouth but it is my mouth. My smoking is much still more healthful than a priest’s cock being forced to a 16-year old girl. I have more pleasure smoking a cigarette than feeling a priest’s finger up my 9-year old ass during confession.  Now, Mister running priest, why don’t you keep running. I think I have a good idea why you run, in fact, not only you but also the whole Catholic establishment.  As for the Philippine Medical Association (which I totally understand and support,) I have a list of other harmful substances with bigger advertising budget.  Call me if you want me to write an article on how we can demonize them. To start, I suggest let us demonize eating French Fries. Those sticks of bad carbohydrates and cholesterol in the mouths of our chubby children are dynamites waiting to explode.

Smoking may be dangerous to my health but it does annoy the right people. Personally, I never smoke in front of non-smoker that I like and respect.  Ehem, do you have a light?

(1) UPDATE: This essay was posted before the PMA made comments on Anne Curtis cover in "Rogue" so the part about Anne Curtis may not be valid anymore.  Thanks.

(First published in “The Chair” Sept. 30, 2011)

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