Last week we lost an icon. Basketball legend Kobe Bryant passed away in a helicopter crash while traveling to his daughter’s game. Gianna Bryant, who was with him during the untimely accident, was also one of the casualties. The emotional reaction to his passing was felt around the globe, with people who were admittedly not basketball fans also mourning. In the Philippines, one of the most notable tributes is that of Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano who went as far as to mount an exhibit for the Black Mamba in the entrance of the House of Representatives.
While the basketball legend passing is a tragedy, where was this energy and dedication during the Taal eruption or when there was a confirmed Corona infection within the country? Cayetano’s tribute is especially tonedeaf if we consider the disturbing rate of murdered activists, farmers, and media among other sectors of the country.
It’s true that Kobe was someone greatly respected and loved. He inspired a great deal of people beyond sports. His impact will be felt in basketball history for years, even decades to come. But as for Cayetano, as a public official, shouldn’t the death of your constituents carry just as much weight? Why is the death of someone in our country just a statistic and the death of someone he found personally inspiring publicly featured in a national space?
Why is the death of someone in our country just a statistic and the death of someone he found personally inspiring publicly featured in a national space?
This piece isn’t meant to be an attack on the legacy of the late Black Mamba, but an attack on the detachment public officials feel from the ails of our country. Wouldn’t it have been better to create tributes for those who passed away after living their lives in service of the Filipinos? There are people fighting for different local industries or communities and deserve recognition for their life’s work. But here we are, seeing our House of Representatives’ Session Hall decorated with photos and memorabilia that I would argue are not even for Kobe, but for the personal whims of one Peter Cayetano.