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Mar 25th
Home Columns Op-Ed Page The Filipino-American "Monkeys" (sic) of San Diego?
The Filipino-American "Monkeys" (sic) of San Diego? PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Op-Ed Page
Friday, 09 November 2007 03:47

The News UpFront (TOP STORY) as of Friday, 9 November 2007

Ever heard of the "Three Monkeys Syndrome"? Well, it's something prevalent in the Filipino community. It arises out of difficult situations as when a person or organization is asked and confronted with questions about, for example, money, or fund-raising activities. Rather than respond, they clam up, and when the time comes they open their mouths, they hit back and curse.


The 'Three Monkeys' Syndrome

When it is a question of money, everybody is of the same religion. - Voltaire


Editor's Note: Mr. Marquez, a multi-awarded professional journalist, is a member of the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and the National Press Club of the Philippines-USA.

A serious illness endemic in San Diego's Filipino community appears to be gaining a sizable foothold even before it could be recognized and accepted.

For want of a better term, and for my layman's understanding, I would like to call it the "three monkeys syndrome".

I am not sure if such a disease exists, or if in fact there's such a malady. I welcome any information on the matter and would gladly accommodate any comment.

For my purposes now, however, I shall refer to it as TMS, my acronym for "three monkeys syndrome". It's not caused by virus, bacteria, or whatever tiny organism there is. It's an acquired affliction that easily develops and immobilizes the person or organization confronted with critical questions.

Jingoro's See no evil, hear no evil, say no evilThe three monkeys are metaphors; one each for the blind, the deaf and the mute. They are celebrated in wood carvings, plastic sculptures, stuffed toys, even in steel as bookends. The wood carving I have in my small library consists of four, however, with the fourth monkey covering whatever lodges below the waist.

When an individual or organization is said to be plagued with TMS, it means that they have turned either blind, deaf or mute or a combination of all three. Essentially then they become human robots; living, breathing, eating zombies

TMS is prevalent in the Filipino community. Hyperactive personages who splash their self-importance in their little dominions and in community newspapers could easily mutate into any of the three monkeys when badgered with questions about money. They are then rendered almost inutile.

Yes, money -- the supreme religion of the faithless, the essential ingredient to many superficial happiness and the only engine that drives the TMS-affected human robots to action.

Several days ago, fires whipped up by the San Ana winds rampaged from the southeast and northeast of the City of San Diego and caused what SANDAG called the "largest fire evacuation operation in the history of the United States" with over half-a-million evacuees.

That was too much to be ignored. San Diego County (meaning the geographic and political area composed of 18 cities and unincorporated territories of which the city with the same name is part) is home to at least 200,000 Filipinos.

That was the cue. No sooner had the fires gone under control than the top official of NaFFAA issued a press statement saying that "We have been informed that many Filipino Americans may be in harm's way and, like the many others, are in need of immediate assistance and relief".

The second phrase in that sentence -- "are in need of immediate assistance and relief" -- sounded like a clarion call for a number of "three monkeys" in San Diego who, before the NaFFAA announcement had been pursuing their merry ways. In fact, not too many Filipinos were affected.

I had warned about it. Web editor Bobby Reyes of Los Angeles went a step further by predicting a repeat of the still-unaccounted money-raising activities right after the fires in 2003 and subsequent disasters later on.

I was browsing the local papers and a story in the entertainment paper Filipino Press caught my attention. It said it was co-sponsoring an event to collect money for the generic "San Diego fire victims" along with scandal-ridden COPAO, Kalusugan Community Services, Filipino American Chamber of Commerce, Majestic Lions Club and others.

Knowing that among those in the group are the "usual suspects", I emailed a set of questions right there and there to get clarification. COPAO president Rita Andrews replied with a press release that basically evaded answering my inquiries.

Since she was not responsive, and neither were her cohorts, I emailed another set of questions to everyone whose name was mentioned as co-organizers. I was hoping they would understand the reasons for my queries.

Nobody responded. I knew that the TMS struck all of them with a ferocity that left them crippled. Was it the set of questions or the fear to answer? Was it that they did not have answers? What triggered the three monkeys syndrome?

I could only guess. FACC's Myrna Reyes asked to be "unsubscribed within 48 hours". Faith Bautista of Mabuhay Alliance begged to be deleted. A certain Fred Gallardo of COPAO seemed more candid when, in addition to demanding to be removed also provided a clue, saying the emails (that include the questions) were "accusatory".

The same exact word -- "accusatory" -- was repeated by Kalusugan's macho honcho Rizalino Oades who, in his usual uncouth, street-brawler style he acquired from living in Pasay City many years ago, made it even worse: "F...k these people, that is what Machiabebe (sic) would do".

Oades further expanded it by writing in his "By the Way" column in the Asian Journal: "There are evil persons in our community, whose forte is to destroy and not build, embed paranoia through character assassination; making up stories with evil twists, and putting a circle of meaningful leaders under siege".

Only an insensitive reader would not see what he was driving at. Oades is obviously pissed that the "collaboration" for the fund-raising did not stay intact as soon as Philippine Consul General Mary Jo Bernardo-Aragon drew the line between the consulate and the TMS-afflicted organizations. FACC also pulled out.

Oades' grumbling is typical of his collaborators. When given an opportunity to explain, they would pay no attention. When asked, they would not answer. When queried again, they would remain quiet, as if such nonchalance would let the issues go away.

I really don't know if the three monkeys had actually descended in San Diego's Filipino community. Or, if they had evolved overnight into some house pets.

Ask Oades. Ask Andrews. Ask Aurora Cudal of Kalusugan/Filipino Press/COPAO. Ask Susan de los Santos of the Filipino Press. Ask Precy Garrovillas alias Purry Garovillar of the Majestic Lions Club. Ask Myrna Reyes of FACC.

Hey guys, are you all the embodiment of the three monkeys? # # #

PHILIPPINE VILLAGE VOICE - Redefining Community News
BREAKING NEWS - Commentary
Issue No. 88 / News Without Fear or Favor /

. . . . . A community service of San Diego's Philippine Village Voice ( or at 619.265.0611) for the information and better understanding of the public. . . . . .

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Last Updated on Friday, 09 November 2007 10:34

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