I do not follow showbiz in the same way that I’m not a fan of gatherings that aim to generate noise and merrymaking. I guess this is another way of saying I am not a social animal. There can be some exceptions, however. I like showbiz if it offers sports events, or if it contains politicians (some of them are showbiz professionals themselves) making fools of themselves in media. I just don’t know, for example, why I can take time to watch big boxing events at the expense of attending to more important things, like doing the dishes. And politicians advised by PR experts on what to say or how to move facial muscles are just fun to watch on TV.
But while I’m just a so-so showbiz fan, I admit it was hard to miss the wedding of Dingdong and Marian just days ago. I mean if one was to stumble upon media content, it was all over the place, as it were.
That the event was huge and its props excessive from the viewpoint of ordinary mortals was there for everyone to see. For one, Marian’s dress costs 2 million pesos, they say.
For another, and take this: reports said there was a cake that costs 7.8 million pesos.
I can almost hear myself complain that the couple could have parted some amount spent for the giant cake to buy lugaw and feed hundreds of starving street kids. But I know right away that I was missing the point. This is a showbiz couple, and to ask them not to show what they have is like seeing a butterfly that does not fly, or eagles that cannot soar in the sky. Such an extravagant and sweet display of wealth may leave a variety of tastes in the mouth of onlookers, especially for those whose images of Yolanda are still fresh in their minds, but I can live with it. And who can tell, for the left hand being unable to know what the right hand is doing, if the couple might in fact be big benefactors of charity. (And whatever abundant surplus there is being taxed correctly? This could help fund DSWD programs and rescue the poor from their plight, or save the typhoon survivors from further pain, right? Well, I thought I warned the reader that I love politician watching.)
But what really takes the cake is this: The hierachy of my Church is no less lavish: Eight bishops and 7 priests officiated the wedding. Isn’t this a bit an overdose of pastoral attention? We have what we call preferential option for the poor–can we keep on believing the hype given the message or messages conveyed by this show of force? On the other hand, I know that every sacrament is sacred, and should be celebrated in the best and most meaningful way we can. If by being in full force is the way to do it, who are we to question that?
Fr. Aris Sison, Rector of the Parish where the wedding was held, explained that the bishops and priests are either friends or relatives of the couple. If the system of delivering public services has its palakasan (whom you know), what is being shown here is I think that delivery of spiritual service cannot be in any way different. It’s nice to be political top dog. It’s even nicer to be showbiz. Kings and beggars know who we are.
Fr. Sison further explained that he asked the couple who from among the officiating bishops or priests they preferred to be the one to deliver the homily. Quite unfair to the chosen preacher—Bishop Ted Bacani, who is also one of my favorites—but to my irreverent mind, I see this as the equivalent—in marketing parlance—of unfailingly serving the ends of customer satisfaction. We offer what people want to hear, not what they need to hear. In a way, the hierarchy of my Church has become market-oriented and demand-driven.
The spectacle of the wedding just did not convey enough sensitivity by officialdom to the message that we have a church for the poor, a living church ever-ready to address even merely symbolic causes of the poor.
But then again, I could be missing the point. Who can tell if a battalion of bishops and priests had already officiated the wedding of homeless couples that roam the streets of Manila, for example? And who can tell if the same number of bishops and priests had given confession to outcasts (not necessarily at the New Bilibid Prisons as they are also millionaires there)? Or if they had administered extreme unction to dying collateral victims of armed conflicts?
Unworthy as I am, I pray to God that I would have the means to know things not being shown in media because they are not of showbiz quality.