It’s going to be April Fools tomorrow. Like Halloween, it is another of those Western celebrations that I never really got into. I can appreciate the art of wearing costumes and playing a good prank every now and then, but I didn’t see the point of humanity being expected to set aside an entire day just for those sort of activities.
But just as my Holy Week musings in my previous article reminded me of how long we have endured our miserable lockdown lifestyle, realizing that it feels like we’ve been on non-stop April Fools mode since 2016 somehow managed to make me feel much worse.
In a couple of days we will commemorate one year of the prank that is the Philippine government’s COVID-19 response. Most of the world has already started recovering from the effects of the pandemic while we are still waiting for the punch line of the day every time high level government officials open their mouths. Instead of a science-based response to the pandemic, we get a comedy club strategy. The thing that sucks the most about it is that what our April Fools government has done so far, is so bad that it is not even close to funny.
Our nation has been treated to joke after joke, prank after prank for almost six years now and we have never complained. At the start, we would laugh awkwardly at the tasteless jokes but after 3-6 months, everything turned old and stale. It was like discovering that the annoying Lolo who tells the same old dirty jokes every time, has suddenly moved into your home, is eating your food, and has no plans of leaving any time soon.
Every time a nation’s leader opens his mouth, people are supposed to be either informed or inspired. In our case, we are expected to use our creative imagination, lower expectations, and understand the weird brand of humor being used by the country’s eternal April Fools prankster.
In other countries, when a crisis hits, their government springs into action. In our country, we get a weekly late night show that adds absolutely zero value to our lives. We can’t even count on it for cheap laughs anymore.
In some of those westernized countries that make a big deal out of April Fools, the good natured and fun-loving people there are already planning their pranks because life is almost back to normal. Their leaders trusted in science over politics. They did mass testing, had contact tracing and are already in the midst of mass vaccinations. They can see the path to recovery.
In the Philippines, our national April Fools prank is Round 2 of ECQ, our grand prize for years of lowering our standards and tolerating a government run by unfunny jokers. No matter how the clowns running things package it, there is nothing funny about what they’ve managed to achieve so far but if you come to think of it, they still somehow have the temerity to crack jokes about the misery they have heaped upon us.
The difference between April Fools 2020 and 2021 is that nobody can afford to laugh now. The only ones laughing are the ones laughing all the way to the bank.
April Fools is when people are traditionally allowed to make pranks on each other. Some people love it, others dread it. There are harmless pranks and there are dangerous ones, and the kind of company you keep usually determines which kind victimizes you during that supposedly funny day. The beauty of it is that it is a one day only affair.
If we are a country that has been a victim of a multi-year April Fools prank, it is ultimately our fault. Even on April Fools, those who don’t like to be pranked have the option of standing their ground and/or fighting back to make sure they don’t get victimized again. If we are here, still smiling resiliently despite six years of tasteless pranks and unproductive jokes, it is ultimately our fault for choosing the path of the prankable.
As Filipino Confucius says: “Walang manloloko kung walang magpapaloko.”
Laugh pa more, people of the Philippines. Happy April Fools!*