A dear friend of mine recently showed me Lorraine Badoy’s Facebook post and lamented about how she still admires her writing despite Badoy being a strong Duterte supporter. I laughed, because it’s fair and true. The open letter was personal. It was poignant, articulate and relatable. It was a good letter. And like my friend, I can’t help but separate the artist from the person to fully appreciate her “art.”
Disillusionment comes in different stages of our lives. At one point, we all created and lived in a bubble — a make-believe world where everything is sunshine, rainbows and chocolates with sprinkles on top. We have our fantasy dinner parties and our Top Favorite lists. We weave tales about their fame and glory, and speak about them with only songs of praises.
Then in moments of truths, whether directly or indirectly, it becomes obvious that disillusionment happens in perpetuity.
The earliest memory of my first “D” encounter was as a child watching Batibot. I used to watch that TV show religiously until one day, on a random trip to the TV studio, I saw it was all an illusion. My little Batibot bubble suddenly burst into a few dozen cameras, green screens, and people holding puppets. It was, essentially, my first heartbreak.
When I was 10, I used to love going to church because of a priest who’s known to give out really good homilies. They were truly inspiring, the kind that makes you want to be a good person. Until one night, I saw him on TV, getting dragged by policemen because he allegedly raped a woman and got her pregnant.
Despite these early setbacks, I never really stopped admiring people. Humanity is a beautiful thing. Gifts of intelligence, talent, confidence and tenacity to achieve their dreams make you believe in greatness, and that in some way, it can happen to you if you only work hard enough. So time and again, I’ve put some people in gold-rimmed pedestals because for me, they deserve to be looked up to. They are the athletes, authors, actors, politicians, musicians, teachers, neighbors and friends I’ve come to know and love. Unsurprisingly, this type of pedestal will just as easily come crashing down as you’ve built them. The greatest tragedy among the magnificent after all is that they’re humans.
I remember when I used to like reading Norman Mailer before I found out he’s a sexist, chauvinist pig. I used to worship a nationally acclaimed writer before I found out he was accused of plagiarism, and he sexually assaults women. I used to love the auteur that is Woody Allen, before discovering that the creepy undertones and Lolita-esque plots were not far from his sick debaucheries in real life.
Johnny Depp’s marital abuse allegations broke my heart. Hugh Jackman partying with Ivanka Trump seems more unforgivable than all of the Van Helsing movies combined. Lea Salonga’s public allegiance to the Marcos family was agonizing. Knowing all these is like waking up from a trance and then finding out I’m in a fucking nightmare.
What sparks disillusionment? I think ultimately, it’s our hardcore beliefs. I know it sounds sappy, but if you stand for something, you won’t fall for anything.
So now that I’m older, I tread the path of esteem and veneration lightly. It’s nice to admire greatness, for you should never underestimate the influence of the human spirit. I just tend to embrace more the obviously flawed but gifted (instead of the other way around) so there are no nasty surprises.
They say never meet your heroes. I’d like to be more proactive and instead start where I can control. Sylvia Plath (the most disillusioned author I know) once advised that we should “create the right kind of dream — the sober, adult kind of magic.” I think that’s a fair bargain. We can’t expect people to be perfect but at least we don’t get easily deceived, and then brokenhearted.
In our lifetime, we will probably get attracted to as many wrong people as possible, and will be deaf, mute, blind and heavily intoxicated in the process. It is fatal attraction. But we will fall out of love. The good that comes out of it is we get used to our truths, and learn to live with them as we go.