I’m sorry sir, that it had come to this.
If I had any kind of influence, I would gladly use it to have the blacklist against you revoked.
I would have wanted a multi-awarded actor such as yourself to visit our capital and appreciate its charms, which includes the stench of cockroaches.
Or at least that’s according to Claire Danes who made that remarkable, if brave observation fifteen years ago.
Of the world’s many poor, underdeveloped capitals that stank to high heavens, she had to choose to visit Manila, thereby forcing her to take in the powerful scent of the city’s armpit districts.
I’m pretty sure it wasn’t pleasant.
However, Manila’s City Council felt differently about the whole matter.
Just days after Ms. Danes reportedly embarrassed the Philippine capital, the body issued a resolution that banned the actress from Manila.
While the move was hailed by all manner of lobbyists, sycophants, and self-proclaimed patriots, the order didn’t do anyone any good. Like most laws in this country, the resolution only showed the public that council members were indeed hard at work, protecting the nation’s pride and integrity at the expense of the truth. After Manila’s supposed assault on her olfactory senses (and her critical faculties), little was heard from Ms. Danes.
I’m sure the actress was hardly interested about ever coming back to the Philippines, a sentiment shared to this day by little brown Americans headed for — or currently living in — North America and various parts of the world.
Thankfully, ever since that incident, progress has arrived in Manila and in the country in general.
Fifteen years after Ms. Danes showed that she was right on the nose, the city and its offended residents have moved on.
No longer does Manila carry the stench that so repelled Ms. Danes, although on hot summer nights, it retains a slight hint of piss and sweat, making beggars and street people long for the good, old days.
Meanwhile, its residents have discovered the wonders of perfume, which many of them use in cloying amounts.
Indeed, many Filipinos may live in hovels, earn starvation wages, encounter regular police harassment, suffer from daily hunger, but we do smell good (and our prepaid cellphones have enough credit to send a text message to say that we’ll be late).
After all, looking and smelling good is a matter of national priority and cultural pride, besides making babies and allowing ourselves to be raped by US servicemen so that we could get US visas.
During the past decade and a half, many Filipinos have also been introduced to the internet, a vast computer network developed by former US vice president Al Gore.
Faster and easier access to information — false, factual, and trivial — have made many of them more small-minded and parochial, jingoistic and oversensitive.
When you cracked that joke about Filipina mail order brides on US television, the whole country heard it via YouTube and read all about it through their email inboxes.
Naturally, they were appalled and disgusted at your remark, even though they cared little for Filipinas who dreamed of marrying foreign males they hardly ever knew.
In any case, the remark earned you a ban from the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration.
You’re in good company.
After Danes, a Hong Kong-based journalist was also banned for telling the truth.
In his column, Mr. Chip Tsao called the Philippines “a nation of servants,” a piece of information that was factually accurate.
Except that it wasn’t something that enhanced our exalted sense of self.
I guess you very well know by now that Filipinos take everything seriously, save for political and economic reform.
This is the reason why it might take awhile before you can get the ban lifted.
In the meantime, let me just say that as a Filipino who is obviously in the minority, I apologize. I am so sorry that you had to be prompted to say you were sorry.
N. B. Good luck with having kids. And send my regards to Ms. Basinger. That is, if you’re still on good terms.