This won’t be an op-ed piece on whether Michael Pacquiao is really a talented rapper or not, because I don’t have a talent in music myself—but can you please just let the kid rap? Trip niya yan eh.
Now here’s the thing. It’s not necessarily bad to point out how his privilege has helped him get the public attention he now has, the kind of attention most artists (some of them arguably more deserving) don’t get, because it’s true. Just look at this very scientific equation:
Success in Anything = Luck (70%) + Talent (15%) + Showing Up.
But I think we have to cut Michael some slack. If I were him and Wish FM wanted me to perform in their claustrophobic music bus, aayaw pa ba ako? Let’s save our energy for the possible objectively offensive things he might do in the future, if any. Not that we’re actively waiting for him to fail or something, but you know namanhow artists go. At kung wala naman siyang gagawing masama and he turns out very well-meaning, well then, nice! We can go on living our miserable lives.
Besides, there are a lot more things more worthy of our outrage.
But don’t you see there’s really a bigger problem here? And it’s that most of us can’t handle two seemingly conflicting ideas at once. It’s always either black or white. It’s always either you’re woke or you’re not—and either way, you have to be offended and angry.
Being woke is okay, but I don’t think being woke means we have to be antagonistic toward literally everything. We don’t have to be KJ. It’s our job to point out the toxicity creeping through the very fabric of most social structures, but we have to be mindful that we’re also not being toxic ourselves. Reflexivity, like PM, is the key.
Well, I know most of us don’t have a social life these days. We spend most of our time remembering our failures and regrets. We simply can’t get over a lot of things, like the typo we made in the RRL of our undergrad thesis. But we must not let it show. Like that typo, not everything is irretrievably wrong.
If we tend to be radical in our ideas, I believe we also have to be radical in our compassion, even if toward people we deem problematic. Let’s not be too beholden to our ideologies that we forget that we’re dealing with real people here. The real lesson of being woke is that real people are always inherently problematic—but capable of character development.
By “real people,” of course, I mean the common people: the people you live in your house with, the people you encounter on the streets, the people you share the awkward spaces inside the jeepney with, wearing face masks and face shields like low-cost cyborgs. So to be clear: I reserve my unmitigated contempt toward people in power.
Now, sa mga galit naman sa woke, I understand you. Maybe you once secretly wanted to be a class officer in elementary, but when a classmate nominated you as the treasurer, you played hard to get. And so nobody voted for you, and then you were hurt, and to this day you’re still nursing that pain. Or maybe you were that kind of student who always submitted their exam papers first to appear cool and aloof, who always pretended to have not studied for every quiz—but who always flunked, nonetheless. It’s okay.
Let me ask you, though: with all the knowledge you can gain about the world right now, with all the sociopolitical issues you can be aware of just by reallocating a few of your Mobile Legends time to actually reading up on such issues, why are you not woke yet?
Stay positive? But positivity can only do so much, and there’ll always be a point where positivity becomes toxic. I think it takes a lot of rigorous denial and indifference on our part to stay positive always, and I think we can definitely channel some of that potential energy into some healthy amount of wokeness. As the mere existence of motorcycle barriers tells us, we’re not living in the best of all possible worlds.
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All I’m saying is puwede tayong maging woke at maging masaya at once. It’s hard, yes, but most of us are not privileged enough, so we’re really meant to live a difficult life. 𝘈𝘸𝘪𝘵.
My biggest dream in life is to live in a world where everyone recognizes that everything is beautiful and painful at the same time—uwu!—and so everyone does their best to make living in it a little bit more bearable. And also to live in a world where people like Tio Moreno were a little bit less confident.
That’s all. I still care about you.
Banner photo from the Wish FM video.