The Philippine Onion

Lies and half-truths shall set you free

Controversial Standard columnist bags 2 honors in Catholic Mass Media Awards (GE)

Posted by commiedyan on November 16, 2007

“I’m sorry for my apology, I didn’t mean it.”—Malu Fernandez

by The Small and Medium at Large

MALU FERNANDEZ, lifestyle writer of Manila Standard Today and People Asia magazine, garnered yesterday two prestigious honors from the Catholic Mass Media Awards-Gifted Edition (CMMA-GE; usually held three weeks after the awards for ordinary journalists) at the Araneta coliseum. After earning the ire of overseas Filipino workers for two articles she wrote earlier this year, Fernandez offered to resign from the two publications. She was asked to stay.

Citing Fernandez for outstanding courage, candor, and wit beyond the call of duty, the awards body gave her the second prize for lifestyle/travel for “Are you a stinky linky? Or do you smell like a divalicious babe?” (MST, April 16). “From Boracay to Greece” published in PA (June 2007), copped the top prize in the same category.

“From Boracay to Greece” offered insights into how social climbers may scrimp only at great risk of losing peace of mind in the company of the international Filipino proletariat, and how certain volatile organic compounds called esters have different effects when mixed in a compressed cabin, depending on socio-economic status of the wearer:

“However I forgot that the hub was in Dubai and the majority of the OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) were stationed there. The duty-free shop was overrun with Filipino workers selling cell phones and perfume. Meanwhile, I wanted to slash my wrist at the thought of being trapped in a plane with all of them.

While I was on the plane (where the seats were so small I had bruises on my legs), my only consolation was the entertainment on the small flat screen in front of me. But it was busted, so I heaved a sigh, popped my sleeping pills and dozed off to the sounds of gum chewing and endless yelling of “HOY! Kumusta ka na? At taga sann ka? Domestic helper ka rin ba?” Translation: “Hey there? Where are you from? Are you a domestic helper as well?” I though I had died and God had sent me to my very own private hell.

On my way back, I had to bravely take the economy flight once more. This time I had already resigned myself to being trapped like a sardine in a sardine can with all these OFWs smelling of AXE and Charlie cologne while Jo Malone evaporated into thin air.”

On the other hand, “Are you stinky…” was a related and thoughtful meditation on the positive correlation between price and olfactory appeal of designer perfumes:

“.Call me whatever you like but when you are trapped in economy class that is filled to the brim with migrant workers the smell gets a little funky after nine hours of flying.

“The whole incident inspired me to write about fragrance. For as long as I can remember I have had a very keen sense of smell. And sometimes I can remember people by their sense, call it weird but its true. Some studies actually state that men and women are more primarily attracted by scent than by physical attributes. I may forget a lover’s face but I never forget his scent. Have you ever gone shopping for a new scent and felt so overwhelmed by so many choices?”

Instead of being edified by the literary gems excerpted above, critics were incensed and interpreted the two award-winning works as a slur on the hard-working Filipino abroad. Instead of offering her sympathy, they maligned and threatened her with insensitive remarks, finally forcing her to issue an apology cum resignation letter. Before that, they called for a boycott of the publications they had never even seen nor could afford. At first the pretty and beleaguered Fernandez tried to pacify her critics:

“Although it may sound elitist to you the fact is this country is built on the foundation of haves, have-nots and wannabes. One group will never get the culture of the other. Although I could mention that it is easier to understand someone who has a lower socioeconomic background that would entail a whole other page and frankly I don’t want to be someone to bridge the gap between socioeconomic classes.”

But her critics only grew more adamant, finally forcing her to give in. In part, her resignation letter read:

“I am humbled by the vehement and heated response provoked by my article entitled ‘From Boracay to Greece!’ which came out in the June 2007 issue of People Asia. To say that this article was not meant to malign, hurt or express prejudice against the OFWs now sounds hollow after reading through all the blogs from Filipinos all over the world. I am deeply apologetic for my insensitivity and the offensive manner in which this article was written, I hear you all and I am properly rebuked. It was truly not my intention to malign hurt or express prejudice against OFWs.”

In her brief acceptance speech, Fernandez took back her apology and said she felt vindicated. Vergel Santos, head of the five-member board of judges, said the awards were meant to compensate Fernandez for the tyranny of political correctness she has had to go through. In addition to two plaques, she received a check for $1000 and a one-year paid vacation in Iraq, where an undetermined number of Filipinos are employed by occupation forces despite an official Philippine government ban.

TPO could not reach any OFW organizations for comment. Fernandez refused us an interview. (When her story came out in MST, the US$ was worth P47.90; it is only P43 as of this writing. This means OFWs have to work harder and are presumably even stinkier).

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5 Responses to “Controversial Standard columnist bags 2 honors in Catholic Mass Media Awards (GE)”

  1. niña said

    fine, let her have her stinking apology; we dont need it. i think the elites want to keep the gap between the classes as far apart as possible to ridicule those people below their ranks.

  2. commiedyan said

    Malu has moved to Zimbabwe.

  3. Abloy D'akog Tomoy said

    But only after the Manila Standard Today agreed to call it Rhodesia again.

  4. commiedyan said

    Abloy, are you related to Roberto Mugabe?

  5. Abloy D'akog Tomoy said

    We are friends on Friendster.

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