Peering at Senator Sotto in the manner of Jonathan Swift

The comedian. [Photo by Philstar]

By JoeAm

The way I figure it, writer Jonathan Swift, who died in 1745, was one of the world’s first bloggers. Well, in those days, they called him a “political pamphleteer”, but the profession is the same: frequent writings that inform or provoke or advocate.

Swift was a master at it. He is best known for his satire. Powerful satire these days is often called “Swiftian”.

sat·ire (ˈsaˌtī(ə)r) noun, the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. (Google)

Swift sometimes used a pseudonym. It allowed him to be more expressive or write freely when his work position required delicacy. He wrote under the pseudonyms Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, and M. B. Drapier, as well as using “anonymous”.

People tell me that Filipinos don’t understand satire. I don’t buy it. Filipinos are masters of ridicule and shadow-speak, which is saying one thing whilst meaning another. Have you seen the derisive memes on social media? Downright artistic.

Its rather like my wife points with her lips. You have to deduce from observations what the true meaning is. Interpreting satire is a lot like that. I think Filipinos get it.

Jonathan Swift [Photograph: DeAgostini/Getty Images, National Portrait Gallery London, via The Irish Times]

But back to Jonathan.

Swift was active politically, and his wit got him into a good deal of trouble. I offer this paragraph from Wikipedia as testimony of his style and his travails:

Before the fall of the Tory government, Swift hoped that his services would be rewarded with a church appointment in England. However, Queen Anne appeared to have taken a dislike to Swift and thwarted these efforts. Her dislike has been attributed to ‘A Tale of a Tub’, which she thought blasphemous, compounded by ‘The Windsor Prophecy’, where Swift, with a surprising lack of tact, advised the Queen on which of her bedchamber ladies she should and should not trust. The best position his friends could secure for him was the Deanery of St Patrick’s; this was not in the Queen’s gift and Anne, who could be a bitter enemy, made it clear that Swift would not have received the preferment if she could have prevented it. With the return of the Whigs, Swift’s best move was to leave England and he returned to Ireland in disappointment, a virtual exile, to live “like a rat in a hole”.

Gulliver’s Travels is perhaps Swift’s best known authorship outside of Great Britain. The rich, biting story has often been hacked up and popularized as a moralistic fairy tale for kids. In the original version, Swift was stabbing wordy spears into queens and other fancy-pants people way too high on themselves.

He also wrote A Modest Proposal in which he suggested Ireland could cure its vast poverty problem by eating all the babies. He even offered recipes. The provocation raised such a loud ruckus that the government’s failure at reducing poverty was given prominence. Officials then started working earnestly to cure the problem.

Hard words are sometimes needed to wake people up, to crack through the cement of rigid, confined and confining thinking.

“I will not allow (the Senate) to be degraded, trampled, attacked, or unfairly criticized without responding fairly or violently if necessary.” Senate President Tito Sotto (Rappler)

I tend to think Senator Sotto would have had Swift lashed and beaten. But it seems to me Senators are fair targets for harsh criticism because they work for the people and the people have high expectations. Just because senators deliver low results does not mean expectations should go soft. The sitting senators today warrant a lot of criticism when they are ignoring real problems, voting stupid, letting thousands of killings go unchecked, condoning malicious State propaganda, allowing a colleague to sit in jail with no evidence presented, granting the seas and Fiilipino jobs to China, and coddling favored sons who seem to be engaged with drugs.

Swift didn’t care much for stuffed shirts like Senator Tito Sotto, a sonorous grump whose first words as Senate President threatened violence against those who, in his mind, would demean the Senate’s integrity. I mean, what kind of undemocratic moronic master of impunity would climb on his moral high chair to lecture and threaten the citizens he serves? He is a comedian by trade, but must be that peculiarly angry, bitter, venomous kind who masks his emotional deficiencies behind laughter that is missing the funny parts.

His threat is beyond ‘chilling’ on Filipino free speech. It is an outright oppressive frontal assault.

Well, I believe nations that foster ideas thrive and those that stifle ideas struggle. I refuse to tremble because some low-road autocrat wears his skin thin. I’ll write what I think, honestly, lavishly, literally, figuratively, and everywhichway that imparts meaning. I won’t allow some plagiarizing, morally offensive, pontificating, ethically obtuse autocrat who pretends religious bearing to censor or confine my mind or keyboard.

Not since Popeye pounded Bluto have I been so determined to write free, and freely.

The fancy-pants senator, overabundantly high on his own capacity to judge the intent of others, can take credit for inspiring that determination.

Swift would probably draw a more subtle picture of Senator Sotto, Senator Gordon, and other such government bullies who are forever dominating the Philippine political stage and spouting their hostile blather. But he would most assuredly cut them down to size. Queen or comedian, all the same to him.

Swift would help scurrilous government servants of no particular intellect, talent, or compassion define themselves as inutile morons.

I wish I had his masterful talent.

Maybe next year. 🙂

Have a good day.


59 Responses to “Peering at Senator Sotto in the manner of Jonathan Swift”
  1. edgar lores says:

    1. Ahaha!

    2. In that one paragraph containing the term “stuffed shirts,” there is more than enough arrows to pierce Senator Sotto’s hide and pin him to his Senate seat or Senate floor as the case may be. A “stuffed shirt” is “a conservative, pompous person” and certainly that is what the Senator is. How a stuffed shirt can be a comedian is almost beyond imagination. But in the weird world of Filipino politics, politicians that sport a Jekyll-and-Hyde persona are a dime a dozen.

    3. In fact, Jekyll-and-Hydes (J&H) abound. There is Sotto’s fellow senator, Dick Gordon, who is honorably mentioned. In that august chamber, I would include Koko, JV, Greg, Ping, and Manny. Compañero has left the chamber and is now the DFA secretary but he is J&H magna cum laude. Baby-faced, smooth talker, spreading falsehoods softly.

    4. And prominent in the Executive branch are the dual personalities of Roque, Calida, Panelo and the President himself. All perhaps are more evil Hyde than good Jekyll. And to think that Roque used to be a good ‘un.

    5. But the most dramatic examples of dual personalities are the Hateful 8 justices. Dramatic because they are supposed to be the embodiment of good qualities. They are not elected but selected for office on their merits. On their proven “competence, integrity, probity, and independence.” It says so in the Constitution.

    6. If there are SC decisions that are legal abominations, are there not justices that are also Abo’s? And Abo Senators as well?

    6.1. This is not to say that all J&H’s are beyond redemption. It would take a great amount of good serum to stop their shapeshifting.

    • NHerrera says:


    • Your point 5, so true. When those responsible for weighing justice jump on the bias scale, that is intense J&H.

      And there are a lot of self-dealing, ethically challenged people in a lot of government offices.

      • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

        Dr J and Mr H represent good and evil in one person, in fiction. They are not of equal weight or characteristics of goodness and evil. Dr J may have experienced from negligible to severe injustice because some people fails to see a Dr J who is really hideously hide because of titles like Drs, Magistrates, Monsignors, Senators, or what ever.

        Like a fake Dr J and Mr Hyde. Julius Earving is Dr. J and so different with Mr World Peace in a hoopla court My point? There’s a Dr Wakarang too and Mr. Hyde, BUT YES, I am like splitting hair differentiating a capon from rooster which are both male poultry. Some persons should be cooked turkey for THANKSGIVING.

        People may have missed the reality that a thief or killer no matter what (before, during and after) is a thief or killer. Scums in bathtubs can’t be watered down and have to be AJAXED.

        • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

          The other point. the Senate is the premier (higher than its HOR counterpart) BALLROOM for elected forever young once who will always be dancing to the tunes of the powers-that-be.

  2. NHerrera says:

    Joeamian = Swiftian. May be a shade higher — Joe, that is. Good article. Nice to read this timely article, after bringing the good wife to a place at her wife-ian command. (We all have bosses.)

  3. Jun Fallar (PacianoF Fallar Jr) says:

    Joe , your tocayo Jose Rizal was a superb satirist. Read his Noli me tangere. Plaridel ( Marcelo del Pilar) was another one.

  4. NHerrera says:

    Off topic, but may be on topic if titled, “US Plan B on Iran urgently needs a Swiftian Satirist to digest.”

    US’ Plan B on Iran:

    “We need a new framework that’s going to address the totality of Iran’s threats,” Brian Hook, the State Department’s director of policy planning told reporters Friday. “This involves a range of things around its nuclear program – missiles, proliferating missiles and missile technology, its support for terrorists, and its aggressive and violent activities that fuel civil wars in Syria and Yemen.”

    A good dream, if realized, but can the US do it alone?

    Previous JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Agreement] had US, Russia, China and EU (its major countries) on board. As is usual in an agreement with several parties involved — not to mention Iran itself — is the “near” common denominator of the sentiments of the coalition. As it stands now, in the current environment, with the US alienating major parties to the coalition, it will be difficult to have the group agreeing — hence a “pipe dream.” It also does not bode well on the US-North Korean June 12 Summit, with the all encompassing Iran Plan B that may be used as a possible template for the US stance on NK. Kim Jong Un has now until June 12 to think about this development with the Big Kibitzer neighbor whispering in his ear.

    • US foreign policy is worse than the Philippines’s because Trump’s tweets and knee-jerk change to carefully crafted positions force other nations to adjust, and sometimes pay a price. The Philippines mainly hurts herself.

      • NHerrera says:

        “That SOB Obama forced me to do all these things, that’s why. It’s strictly personal and political; no business or grand plan about it at all.”

    • Andres 2018. says:

      US foreign policies getting down and down. While that of China’s going up and up. See China’s Silk Road Project. Its like US creating ‘walls’ and China is ‘bridges.’

      • Both giants are pursuing damaging policies, the US by arrogance, the Chinese by manipulation (islands, debt). The way you put it is a complete mischaracterization, I think. All of China’s bridges are oppressive.

        • Andres 2018. says:

          What i am saying is, many favor China’s policy than that of US. See countries that avail of these Chinese loans, its not only the Philippines. Its not about concluding which one is better than the other. Both have its own goods and bads.

          • edgar lores says:

            China’s policy is known as “debt-diplomacy.” It’s a time bomb for poor countries.

          • China is rising, no doubt. That it is done over nations rather than with them is a rapidly growing concern. Pushback against China will grow significant, I think. It is fascinating to no end that the US killed ZTE and is now letting the company live. There are no simplistic answers for what is going on. I think your ‘bridges’ description should be more like a flimsy set of planks over a rough river.

    • Sup says:

      compare the resume Late Angara/ Sotto

    • NHerrera says:

      “I will be the one who will nominate Senator Tito Sotto as Senate president,” Pimentel said in press conference on Monday at the Senate.

      I only asked to stay until October; but you 15 of my friends Quo Warranto’d me. Boo hoo!

    • Please summarize what is in links so people who are moving fast (or have lousy internet service) don’t have to click over to read. That is standard editorial policy here.

      • madlanglupa says:

        Ok, sorry, been on a hurry trying to follow events (and Mondays suck in that they love to bring out surprises).


        Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III stepped down as Senate president on Monday, letting Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III take the helm at the upper chamber.

        This developed as the majority of the Senate members – 15 of 23 – has already signed a resolution electing Sotto as the new Senate president.

        “I will be the one who will nominate Senator Tito Sotto as Senate president,” Pimentel said in press conference on Monday at the Senate.

        The resolution, “Expressing the sense of the Senate to re-organize its leadership and electing Senator Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III as new Senate President” reads: “By a majority of all the senators, Senator Vicente C. Sotto III is hereby elected as the new Senate President to discharge the duties and powers granted to him by the rules of the Senate.”

        The 15 legislators who signed the resolution were Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, and Senators Sonny Angara, Loren Legarda, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Nancy Binay, Sherwin Gatchalian, Francis Escudero, Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, Joel Villanueva, Cynthia Villar, Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Grace Poe.


        • Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

          from Asindagat (salt of the sea):

          The senate session hall, repeat the SENATE SESSION HALL is a quintessential BALLROOM for Dancing With the Stars or SYTYCD (So You Think You Can Dance). It is a mini Rome Coliseum ruins where the dancers (not gladiators, Christians and lions) are really new words celebrities like the Waknakatans, Wakbokabo, Waklogtu, Wakawakwaks and Wakarangs. The steps and gyrations are exempted from propriety and decency. Power dance and power singing are the favorite numbers.

    • edgar lores says:

      The country is now led by a dumbvirate, a more fitting neologism than triumvirate.

      But among Sotto, Alvarez, and Duterte, it’s hard to tell who is Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest.

      Perhaps we can use their last name initials — which spells S-A-D — as a guide?

      • NHerrera says:

        Satire requires enjoyment of word play. Words are instruments, like scalpels — Joeam.

        Your post is illustrative of that, edgar.

  5. chemrock says:

    Filipino panty-pants senators, congressmen and women, prez, secretaries, asces, governors, mayors and all others who think they are too big for their shoes… all can take a leaf off the newly-elected prime minister of Malaysia.

    One citizen wrote a scaring attack against the dignity of Mahathir and was arrested by the police under draconian laws implemented by the previous panty-pants PM Najib. Mahathir object to the action of the police and requested they release the man. His critics should not be arrested, he said. It’s one of his election pomises to repeal a few bad laws enacted recently that trampled on human rights.

    • NHerrera says:

      Nice. It’s indeed a good thing to have another stab at power, after having it before, with notable achievements the first time — failings, notwithstanding. His age and experience and personal “mellowed” conviction, I believe, are factors. Thanks, chempo, for sharing.

  6. madlanglupa says:

    Offtopic: There is nothing more infuriating than to be told dismissively by a clearly gloating SCEA and their anti-Sereño patrons in high court.

    • NHerrera says:

      The only sensible thing the supporters of the Hated 8 SC Justices can do really — since almost all the arguments of many clear thinking Filipinos against the SC decision of these 8, six of whom pre-judged the case, cannot be honestly rebutted without resorting to the twisted arguments of the eight, worst of all the legal joke or legal abomination [your choice] penned by Ponente Tijam.

    • Right. “Accept it,” for such a deed is basically saying “accept it” while we execute democracy.

  7. Sottocracy: the only known homegrown Filipino ideology. Devoid of substance with a ritualized Christian conservative face. Its followers are moral midgets yet giants in vanity.

    Its leader is a comedian that wears a beard to look respectable and reliable. Many believe him.

  8. gerverg1885 says:

    His threats show that he is ever the true follower of his master but not in deed(s) because he is yet to prove himself beyond his talent in making people laugh at his corny jokes. He will regret having accepted such a position meant for people who can act and speak on their own

  9. Popoy Del R. Cartanio says:

    I was planning to write on Harry and Meghan’s wedding of many (twelve?) generations on the single thought to proclaim that their Royal Wedding had put a humane face to the aristocratic pomp and splendor of Monarchy’s history in Europe. But I wasn’t there and done that and without evidence like a Wakarang. I know someone best can do it if I look hard enough. I did see a Wakatan (genius) of a write up worth the time reading it.

  10. Sup says:

    How about ex senator B.B. Marcos?

    ”A Quezon City court sentenced a former National Food Authority public relations employee of up to two years and four months imprisonment for misrepresenting his educational records in his personal data sheet (PDS).

    Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 95 convicted former NFA Public Relations Officer IV Emmanuel Jacob Salonga of perjury under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

    Salonga pleaded guilty in misrepresenting his PDS, claiming to have graduated in 1979 with a degree in AB Journalism from the University of the Philippines.

    Under Article 183 of the Revised Penal Code, perjury is the willful and corrupt assertion of a falsehood under oath or affirmation administered by authority of law on a material matter.”

    Read more:

  11. Sup says:

    I like to see some senators pass this test….. 🙂

    Only 10.7% pass March 2018 civil service exam

    Only 25,602 or 10.71 percent of the 238,966 examinees passed the Career Service Professional examinations conducted by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) last March 18.

    The passing rate for the Career Service Sub-Professional examination given on the same day was slightly higher, with 11.20 percent or 4,573 out of 40,821 examinees passing the test.

  12. chemrock says:

    As someone in Facebook said – congratulation, we have a new Senate Pepsident.

  13. OT: Dutertians believe in joining China..

    Duterte and Marcos quoted as authorities..

    HINDI PROBLEMA ang China!
    Sinabi na yan ni Pres. Duterte!
    Sinabi na yan ng mga Marcos!

    Ang PROBLEMA yung mg HIPOKRITONG ayaw mag-isip para sa kapayapaan at kapakanan ng buong mundo, kasama ang Pilipinas at China!

    • But then again, let the public discussion flow.. see which side the Philippines decides for..

    • Rationalizations, so simplistic, so dangerous. So . . . so . . . suspiciously Chinese.

      • But also Dutertian, but I think a lot of their ideas are Chinese-influenced. Especially the racial division of the world – whites as forever the evil colonialists who are to be hated, Chinese race as a determinant for being an ally.

        Now how about Filipinos most likely WITHOUT Chinese blood – poor people, Lumads, Moro – is my conjecture about a racial and class stratification similar to the horrible one Germany imposed on World War 2 occupied Poland that far-fetched?

        • Grim way to look at it, the idea that there is a subtle promotion of Chinese-Filipino racial superiority going on. Bears watching. Certainly there is hostility toward lumads, blacks, Arabs, and whites from Duterte.

    • Francis says:


      We shouldn’t overstate Chinese influence. The West is still the major cultural influence—our intelligentsia still either is sentimentally attached (note the staying power of liberalism, the opposition’s fondness for anti-Trumpian lingo i.e. the alt accounts—as most evident in the mundane way that both middle class oppositions seem to draw on common “American” pop cultural references like Star Wars i.e. the Resistance) or it is too obsessed with responding and deconstructing it (i.e. US-Duterte Regime).

      What explains this post is more likely the malleability of the Filipino “thought space” as a whole. Which can be further explained by the weakness and the immaturity (not pejoratively, but in the developmental sense) of our intelligentsia, its insufficient engagement/connection with the broader citizenry/masses and the lack of enough institutions to foster such engagement/connection.

      This cognitive backwardness of our “societal brain” has led to an adoption of liberal ideals in a manner that is somewhat superficial. Statements like this are not a sign that Filipinos love China—rather, they are more proof of a lack of substantial engagement with ideas. Ignorance.

      Not a lack of knowledge of history, sciences social and hard—but a lack of appreciation for why these matter. A lack of love for wisdom that leads one to view oneself as part of larger universe—a lack of “ideological intuition” that is essential for modern man to comprehend modern society.

      Rather—love for China is a useful signifier to show that one loves the datu. “Foreign Policy” is distant; all that I can see is what the eye can see: the barangay.

      I sound like I am contradicting myself. I claim that the West is the major influence, but at the same time claim that our “societal brain” is undeveloped. This is not a contradiction. It is not that there is no brain, but that there is a brain—and it cannot connect to the body. Our “brain” (the intelligentsia) is separated from the “body” by class, lack of “intermediating institutions” and language; there are no “intermediating institutions” such as books to popularize academic concepts i.e. pop science, pop social science, pop philosophy books and publications with long-form content i.e. The Atlantic to link the “policymakers and academics” with their highfalutin ideas to the citizenry below in plain vernacular, and the brain speaks in English when the katawan wants Filipino.

      But the “intelligentsia” still matters, because even katawan cannot understand ulo—katawan is still left with the vague feeling that he should understand ulo because ulo seems to know what he’s doing. Hence, our “apperance” of liberalism until Duterte, who unlike Marcos, does away with the pretense—yet even Duterte rolls back his statements, which proves the potency of liberalism, the result of decades of an elite thinking that “liberal” clothes look dandy and masses which thought that, if these fancy elites thought it was good—well, that’s that.

      Ah. I digress. China.

      The intelligentsia is too Westernized to their bones to truly make themselves Chinese. And our Westernized nature is the result of being directly colonized—even as a neo-colony, China won’t have as much of a free hand in shaping our culture as previous colonizers did.

      We must also qualify Chinese influence—in that it’s more economic, material than cultural. This is historical. The Chinese handled (and still handle) our Economy, while the Mestizo and Indio handle Culture and Politics. Also—it is worth noting that Chinoys (even if they keep to themselves via separate educational systems) still identify as Filipinos—and do have more similarities with their elite and middle class non-Chinese mestizo and indio counterparts (the conyos) in the Catholic schools.

      I don’t fear Chinese culture.

      I fear harsh, cold and unrelenting Chinese soft power that might as well be hard—peace that might as well be war—a totalitarian capitalist state where state companies and private conpanies act at the behest of a driven state, a ruthless nation with no scruples when it comes to using realpolitik.

      I fear the Machiavelli in Beijing.

      • Francis says:


        “But the “intelligentsia” still matters, because even if katawan cannot understand ulo—katawan is still left with the vague feeling that he should understand ulo because ulo seems to know what he’s doing.”


        I don’t fear China or the Chinese people.

        I fear the CCP and their ruthlessness, drawn from the primal need to stay in power at all costs and an almost religious view of themselves as “The Party is the Nation”.

        • I left both versions in because both are meaningful.

        • NHerrera says:

          80 percent like!

          The malleable, immature-underdeveloped nature of our brain — using concept, words from your post which has a ring of truth to me — is the reason for the 80 percent. Also, I recall this:

          Mama says “I love you” to child and the latter says I love you back. After passage of some minutes, Papa says to the child, “I love you,” and the child says the same to Papa. Here comes Auntie and asks the child who he loves more. The answer: Papa. [This is reversible if the sequence is Papa first, then Mama, the child would have answered: Mama.]

      • “What explains this post is more likely the malleability of the Filipino “thought space” as a whole. Which can be further explained by the weakness and the immaturity (not pejoratively, but in the developmental sense) of our intelligentsia, its insufficient engagement/connection with the broader citizenry/masses and the lack of enough institutions to foster such engagement/connection.

        This cognitive backwardness of our “societal brain” has led to an adoption of liberal ideals in a manner that is somewhat superficial. Statements like this are not a sign that Filipinos love China—rather, they are more proof of a lack of substantial engagement with ideas. Ignorance.”

        Excellent explanation for what I term “Sassotian anti-imperialism” which usually targets based on race, not on actual conditions of exploitation. It always annoyed me to hear that kind of nonsense – not just today – from people who should know better like UP graduates.

        Walking up the Prague castle with a Filipina from Hawaii (why exactly there is a long story) she saw the palace guards and said something about European imperialists. I wasn’t in the mood at all to explain that Czechs were never imperialists, usually conquered themselves.

        Some smart Filipinos get to Europe and discover that they are small fish in a very big pond. Some expand their horizons, others fall back into Filipino pride defense mechanisms. In fact those in Europe more than those in the USA where Filipinos usually succeed much easier. That being because the education they have had including terms and assumptions are the same or similar to the Philippines. Europe means rethinking everything and many do not.

        Or the Filipinos who are beneficiaries of the international system – UN employees or also executives of multinationals – who arrive in Europe – or travel in Europe outside the usual expat-friendly places – and discover that their English does not give them automatic status. That kind of frustration can make them either pull the social superiority or the victim card. One version of that is joining the anti-liberal bandwagon of today’s world, out of spite.

        The older version of that spite was Filipino leftists – often those who did not pass muster among the “Ingleseros” (Filipino “liberalism” is often just English snobbery plus classism) and decide for the exact opposite out of spite. The extreme versions who actually get to study in Russia for example are very surprised that in reality, racism is MUCH worse there, and that was the case even in Soviet times from some stories I have heard about Pinoys.

        Someone on social media quite smartly commented on a picture of Xi Jinping and Duterte, saying Duterte has an imagined nice stepfather. Duterte is simply one of those who did not have the status and the confidence to deal with the US on an equal footing, like those who went through the usual Ateneo drill and finished unlike him. So he looks for another patron. Xi obliges (manipulatively) while Putin is totally cold. A mature Philippines will no longer try to impress patrons, or rebel if not sufficiently favored. But it is a long way getting there.

        • “That kind of frustration can make them either pull the social superiority or the victim card. One version of that is joining the anti-liberal bandwagon of today’s world, out of spite.”

          Terrific explanation of the OFW pro-Duterte mindset. Great insights. So is the last paragraph. Thanks.

  14. Sup says:

    ‘Iskul Bukol’: Netizens slam Sotto over ‘Bayang Magiliw’ gaffe

    Senate President Vicente Sotto III refers to the Philippine national anthem as ‘Bayang Magiliw,’ instead of its actual title, ‘Lupang Hinirang’

    MANILA, Philippines – “They said that I plagiarized [an inspirational quote from Senator Robert F. Kennedy]? Of course not. It was an inspirational message coming from a pastor that was used by the Americans, and if we use it and translate it into Tagalog, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not plagiarism, because if you think that’s plagiarism, then you must think that ‘Bayang Magiliw’ is plagiarized because it was originally in Spanish, and somebody changed it into English, and somebody translated it into Tagalog unofficially. So is that plagiarism?”

    To many netizens, the answer to newly-minted Senate President Vicente Sotto III’s question, posed during a recent Rappler interview, is a resounding yes.

    The inspirational quote in question refers to a long-standing controversy involving Sotto from 2012. Sotto had then delivered a privilege speech against the reproductive health bill, in which he made a statement in Filipino that social media users identified as a near-verbatim translation of a speech Kennedy gave in 1966. Even then, Sotto had also defended himself by insisting that translations do not equate to plagiarism.

    Many Filipinos expressed their disagreement with Sotto’s latest defense on social media. However, this was not the only part of Sotto’s statement that sent them into an uproar.

    They also pointed out that Sotto referred to the Philippine national anthem as “Bayang Magiliw,” instead of its actual title, “Lupang Hinirang.” “Bayang magiliw” is the anthem’s first line, and while mistaking it for the song’s title is not uncommon, netizens expected more from their new Senate president.


    • Thanks for the update on Senator Sotto, Sup. It rather validates my own assessment of him. I would note that to soften the tone of my article, I changed the one descriptive word from “buffoon” to “grump”. Maybe I would have been more accurate with the former description.

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