Of Golf, the Internet and ElitesWritten on Sunday, December 28th, 2008 at 3:27 pm | by butch
Whoever said that golf is a gentleman’s game has never played at the Valley Golf and Country Club. The now infamous incident involving Department of Agrarian Reforms Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, his namesake, Nasser, Jr. , mayor of Masui, Lanao Del sur, and their friends and bodyguards who beat up two persons, Delfin De La Paz and his 14-year old son Bino, has spread all over the internet. A De La Paz daughter, Bambee, herself part of the group allegedly attacked by Pangandaman and company narrated the assault in graphic and dramatic detail in her blog.
It started with an argument over golf etiquette, with the Pangandaman flight overtaking the De La Paz family without so much as a by-your-leave. Bad form, certainly. One should never get ahead of a group of players, unless you are waved on by those in front of you. It’s not only good manners but also vital for safety. In a crowded gold course, which I would imagine Valley Golf was on the day after Christmas, players have to follow rules in order to avoid getting conked in the head by an errant ball. Or worse.
The fight started on the fairway and continued at the clubhouse, where guns were drawn by the Pangandaman bodyguards. From reports, the De la Pazes, father and son, got thoroughly stomped on by Pangandamans.
Charges of physical injuries have been filed against the alleged aggressors, who promise to counter-sue. Much will be said and written about the factual and legal aspects of the event in the coming days and I would rather not add to the din. There is a sociological and political facet of the unfortunate occurrence, however, which might be worth touching upon.
BrianB has commented in certain entries in Filipino Voices that:
How clueless some people are, especially the upper middle class. ganito talaga buhay dito sa Pilipinas. Kaya nga dapat lumaban, dapat reform o rebolusyon. Especially ngayon global recession na and the middle class cannot just expect to up and leave when things heat up.
To all our clueless middle class. Welcome to the Philippines.
When the politicos were going after the poor, their lands and their rights, what did the middle class do? Nothing. When the politicos went after the press, what did the middle class do? Nothing. Now they are starting to come at you and your previous apathy has made you as weak as puking baby.
What BrianB seems to be saying (and please correct me if I’m wrong, BrianB) is that the upper middle class reaction to the whole brouhaha, as reflected in the entries flooding the blogosphere, is a bit knee-jerk and short-sighted. The “upper middle-class”, whoever they are, shouldn’t be shocked at all at what happened, as this has been happening in the country for a long time. Politicians lording it over others, or those they perceive to be their economic, social and political inferiors, are commonplace occurrences. We should be furious not only by what befell the De La Pazes, but at the larger crimes perpetrated against our countrymen, “the poor, their lands and their rights”, as BrianB puts it.
Valid point. For example, we should be just as angry, if not much more outraged, at what was done to Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, U.P. students who were kidnapped two years ago, tortured and raped by the military, the state instrument of political oppression, and who remain missing to this day. Compared to what they suffered, the De La Pazes merely had a nice walk ruined. Not to make light of what is clearly a brutal and traumatic experience, specially for the young boy, at the hands of fiends, public officials at that. But on the scale of human suffering, there are certainly much more crimes perpetrated by Filipino politicos against many of us that deserve our vehement collective condemnation.
That said, the reaction of the upper-middle class is wholly understandable as what happened to the De La Paz family hits close to home. It could have been us, one would immediately think. Not that I can afford a membership to Valley Golf (both the De La Pazes and Pagandamans are members) but I certainly have a few close buddies who are members and have been invited many times to drop by the place. And access to the internet platform that is the blogosphere, at least as far as creating compelling content is concerned, remains, like golf, to be a largely elite undertaking. Note that it was Bambee’s blog that alerted fellow bloggers and stirred up their passionate response.
Based on the stories, the Pangandamans behaved like savages. They disgraced themselves and their constituents, not to mention our Muslim brothers and sisters. Try as we might not to give a religious or ethnic slant to the whole sorry story, this would be unavoidable. The Pangandamans are from Lanao Del Sur and, as leaders of national stature, are supposed to embody the finest traits of the Maranao people. If this is how they act while outside their geographical bailiwick, one shudders at the thought of how they behave at home.
That the Pangandamans seem to have a feudal hangover is shown by what was supposedly said to the De La Pazes by the younger Pangandaman during the beating: “Hindi mo ba ako nakikilala? (Don’t you know me?)” . The fact that he was not recognized was apparently an affront to Junior’s maratabat (sense of honor) and this enraged him all the more. Shameful.
What can we learn from all this ? The first obvious lesson is that to play at Valley Golf is a risky proposition. One must be aware of the group in front and at the back of your flight at all times. And to be ready to use your clubs for purposes other than whacking a ball, if the need arises.
Another insight is that a supposedly civilized elite refuge like a golf course is also a microcosm of Philippine society. Any golf and country club in the country is structured by a class system and governed by an invisible, though rigid, pecking-order which governs all social relationships. Note the inability of the Valley Golf management and guards to restrain a member gone berserk. And not all members are equal. At the top of the totem pole, it seems, are the wealthier, more politically-connected and influential families.
Also, I have to disagree with BrianB when he says:
Concerned citizens cannot keep doing this, running to the aid of persons who get victimized by politicians. There’s no progress in this sort of unprincipled advocacy. The blogosphere shouldn’t be used as an extension of your family connections and friendship networks… not that I forbid people but in my thinking this can be a more powerful medium, something that will actually change policies and attitudes.
I feel that the blogosphere has played a very vital role in bringing this incident, and all attendant issues, to light. And I see nothing wrong in individuals running to the aid of those who have been victimized or wronged by politicians, government and military officials or any run-of-the-mill criminal or bully, whether it be a person or institution, which unfortunately we have no shortage of. I certainly wouldn’t consider such simple civic-mindedness or compassion “unprincipled”. And the internet, and the blogoshere in particular, is an extension of our family, friendship and professional networks, a fact which we have to live with, whether we like it or not. That we’re all posting and commenting in Filipino Voices obviously shows this.No tags for this post.
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- The Pangandaman-Dela Paz Family Feud
- Impunity and Golf
- Castigating Bloggers
- Of Political Arrogance - A Nightmare At A Golf Course
- What if Dela Paz started this golf melee?