Everyone but everyone in town is currently reading — in the Internet — the ghastly revelations and experiences in “Manila sassiety” of a foreigner who once enjoyed “la vida loca” in Manila and Boracay…
There was nothing new and nothing earthshaking in his sordid retelling but it has nonetheless titillated all of Manila and the Filipinos worldwide, now hanging on tethers with his every spiteful word…
Despite thankfully not being a part of the hedonistic circles he described, I do understand the entire milieu. And it did get me thinking, and thankful, that such situations are not in my realm of quotidian reality. Far too swank, too fast, too swish. To think that swank, fast, and swish have never been words associated with, or depictive of, polite society anywhere in the world.
Young and Fashionable Manila giggles with perverse delight at the whole affair, breezily dismissing it all as the entertaining chic-of-the-week, saying that they do it all anyway — the parties, the drugs, and the free sex, heterosexual and otherwise — so what’s the bother about it all…???
But in the hallowed enclaves of patrician Manila society — amidst the “beluga,” the “foie gras,” the white truffles, and the bubbling of the “Cristal Roederer” in the long, Carlos “Botong” V. Francisco-hung dining rooms, the whiffs of “Louis XIII” cognac and “Cohiba” cigars in the aromatic “narra”-paneled, Fernando Amorsolo and Vicente Manansala-hung libraries, the “Chanel,” the “Brioni,” the “Hermes” of the refined groups assembled — there are knowing glances, aristocratic smirks, expensive frowns, and rueful sighs at what has been generally regarded as irresponsible and distasteful behavior displayed by young individuals grudgingly acknowledged by society as somewhat their own.
It is a case of privilege misunderstood.
There is a patrician lady I know of distinguished family and impeccable lineage, still very rich in contemporary terms, who prides herself in her simple ways, aristocratic attitudes notwithstanding. We like to make fun behind her back because of her peculiar Old World disposition and insufferable snobbishness so anachronistic to these freewheeling times. But what she says unfailingly has stuck to my mind: “We have more than the others and we must be mindful of the responsibility that comes with it. Because we have been given more, it is our duty to help those with less, specially those with almost nothing. What we have is not meant for our luxury and self-indulgence, but for the upliftment of the less fortunate, specially the most unfortunate. We have a duty to make the most of ourselves with the best of education, hard work, professional achievement, and accumulation of resources all for the glory of God and the greater good of the community and country.”
I vividly recall the time when a dear, very sensible and very proper friend — one of the most patrician and affluent of the several heiresses of the venerable Lopez de Iloilo clan — firmly admonished her daughters to steer clear of people “who do not share our values” — the values of hard work, integrity, honesty, and simplicity. Without being in the least self-righteous, she proceeded to disallow contact even with relatives whom she sensed had questionable morals, false values, and debilitating psychological issues. Her authoritative behavior impressed me, and I realized that the traditional strength of the legendary Lopez ladies through the ages — Maria “Bibing” Lopez, Rosario “Sayong” Lopez de Santos, Paz Lopez de Laguda, Victoria Lopez de Araneta, Lilia Lopez de Jison — was presenting itself firsthand!!!