Sunday, May 9, 2010

IN ILOCANO, AS IN MANY PHILIPPINE LANGUAGES, "trapo" means rag. And, like many words integrated into the myriad of Philippine languages, its origin is Spanish, meaning cloth, dust cloth, cleaning cloth, rag. In the local context, "trapo" sometimes means a very dirty, almost useless piece of cloth not even fit for cleaning: a throw-away.

Hence, during the Marcos era, politicians subservient to the dictator and his cronies, who consented to suppression and chose to keep their mouths shut for fear of reprisal, or simply coasted along, with similar-minded politicians, to live life comfortably and without risk despite widespread repression and lack of freedom for the general public, were called "trapo" by their critics, the media and citizens who saw things and led life differently. A traditional politician, in other words.

"Trapo" is a shorter form for the earlier name-call "tradpol" like tadpole, i.e. legless, mindless baby amphibians squiggling aimlessly in murky waters. My guess is, those who later coined the word "trapo" saw the term more appropriate for the traditional (and "traditionally corrupt") politico, and in deference to the aquatic larvae, which, in later stages of its development, are actually helpful to our survival as humans.

Trapo, the political name-call, has outlived Marcos and is very much in use today. It not only includes politicians identified with Marcos but politicians of all ages and affiliations who belong or are perceived to condone the status quo.

The trapo is not expected to have an open mind or risk their social and ideological positions. They are believed to be exclusive (as opposed to being inclusive), are neither adaptive nor progressive. They are the "same old-same old", "been there done that" bench-warming, grandstanding public servants content with the "old ways" of doing things. They are the political godfathers and patriarchs who bequeath their positions in government to their descendants or whose progeny audaciously await such inheritance.
(continue reading here)

[This topic is related to the Philippine elections. All my election-related posts can be read on my other blog,]


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