Friday, May 10, 2013

Should The Philippines Have Its Own Version Of Jon Stewart?

Egypt’s version of Jon Stewart has been grabbing headlines earlier this year after being accused of insulting Egypt’s President Morsi and Islam, does the Philippines ever had its own version of Jon Stewart? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Earlier this year, Egyptian political satirist Bassem Youssef – more popularly known to the rest of the world as “Egypt’s Jon Stewart” – became famous beyond his home country after the Egyptian government issued an arrest warrant against him for allegedly insulting Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi and Islam. After embroiled in such hot water, Bassem Youssef got invited by the real Jon Stewart to appear as a guest in The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. As a former heart surgeon turned host of his very own political satire show titled The Program, Bassem Youssef is only one of the countless activists in Egypt choosing to use political satire to inspire change to a government that still seem to be trapped in the quagmire of the over 30-year Mubarak dictatorship. Given that Egypt has its own version of Jon Stewart, isn’t it high time for the Philippines to also have its very own version of Jon Stewart? 

Back in the early 1990s, the closest thing for the Philippines of having its very own version of Jon Stewart was a then very popular political satire show – now largely forgotten – titled Mongolian Barbecue where a self-styled Mongolian host named Mr. Shooli poked fun at the topical political issues of the day – especially the day’s buzzwords and sound-bytes. Mongolian Barbecue fans today will likely remember the “Political Wheel” – used to poke fun on Filipino politicians of the early 1990s who lacked political will. And every self-respecting Mongolian Barbecue fans will probably still remember those “Behest Man” jokes. Given that dysfunctional Filipino politicians are litigious as Hell, a Doonesbury  like cartoon strip called Pugad Baboy was sued by a Estrada administration crony back in 1999 after it poked fun at widespread nepotism and cronyism in Philippine politics that was then still alive and kicking years after the Marcos dictatorship. 

So is it high time for the Philippines to have its own version of Jon Stewart? Young folks today – as in Filipino millennials – would probably say: “Hell Yes!!! Well, I mean there is a lot of that contemporary dystopia we lovingly call the Philippine society to poke fun and satirize about. The Philippine educational system alone has been begging to be poked fun at after it has became a parody of itself by voluntary electing itself to be run like a 13th Century Catholic / Abrahamic theocracy since the mid 1990s. I mean the Philippine Department of Education only respects one’s belief system if it revolves around a Middle Eastern charlatan that lived centuries ago and then ruthlessly evangelized by a bloodthirsty Medieval-era European warlord or a variant thereof.  Belief systems revolving around healing crystals and enlightened technologically advanced extraterrestrial beings capable of interstellar travel need not apply in the Philippines Department of Education for starters. This alone is not bad for a first episode for your very own political satire show.  Sadly, if a Filipino comedian reminiscent of Mr. Shooli was around in the Philippines these days and is as active and as “civic minded” as him during his heyday in the early 1990s, he – or she – would be immediately targeted for extra-judicial killing or threatened with ex-communication by the Philippine Vatican Princes just for “telling like it is”.