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Noynoy's Turn to Play the Fiddle While Philippines Burns

June 30, 2010

In AD 64, Rome burned for six days and seven nights. Its citizens watched helplessly as the fire spread quickly and savagely. When the fire died down, only 30% of the city was left standing. Only four districts remained, three were flattened to the earth. The remaining seven became charred remains. This was the eyewitness account of the Roman historian, Tacitus.

In coming to grips with what happened, stories circulated that the flames were fanned, supposedly under orders. These tremendous losses were looking for someone to be held accountable for the fire – and they pointed the finger at Nero.

Some said Nero started the fire by his lonesome. Some say Nero ordered the fires to be set. As Rome was being rebuilt, people saw that it was being built more to Nero’s liking – and causing them to wonder if the fire was just an excuse to rebuild Rome in Nero’s image. The most enduring of all stories was that Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned.

The tale conjures images of a ruthless mad emperor with a city in flames as a backdrop, playing a fiddle, eating grapes, lying on a couch while the Romans plunged into misery.

Tacitus however disputes the tale noting that Nero actually did something for the citizens of Rome. He rushed back to the city when he heard of the news. Nero proceeded to his palace in the outskirts of Rome. He coordinated the firefighting efforts starting at the first night of the seven night disaster. Nero had the public buildings opened, had his gardens used as temporary shelter. He imported grain from nearby citizens and provided food at a very low cost.

Yet, the story still persists today that Nero fiddled while Rome burned.

It was impossible for Nero to play the fiddle because it wasn’t invented yet. However Nero did like to play the harp-like cithara. It is said that he coordinated music festivals and competitions in conquered lands and had a deep emotional connection to these festivities.

These of course, bothered his rivals in the Senate who felt that Nero competing in these festivals was not appropriate to his office.

Which leads to another interpretation. It refers to Nero’s fiddle not as an instrument but as a metaphor for indecisiveness and/or ineffectiveness. Fiddling in this sense means “To occupy oneself in an aimless or desultory way: liked to fiddle with all the knobs and dials”; “to waste or squander: fiddled away the morning with unnecessary tasks.”.

If Nero’s actions during the fire are seen as misdirected and aimless, then the story about Nero fiddling while Rome burned takes on a new turn.

What has this got to do with the Philippines?

I caught a glimpse of the inauguration while having lunch at the Filipino restaurant (yes, I patronize Filipino restaurants – I love the deep-fried galunggong and the pakbet or sinigang that goes with the hot white rice).

Seeing Gloria on the screen reminded me of Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burned. I don’t have to reprise how that story goes.

Seeing Noynoy and his past performance at the Senate reminded me of Nero doing aimless and misdirected activities while Rome burned.

Given the gargantuan challenges we face today, I was hoping for a more somber inauguration. But certainly I am not one to deny people their right to celebrate. At the same time that leads me to ask what the hell are we celebrating for?

As one Nero leaves, another Nero steps in. Rome is burning. Will he fiddle with the instrument – or fiddle our time.

I guess this becomes a case of eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we shall burn some more.

Good Luck Penoy Aquino.

From → Government

17 Comments
  1. Pugot Ulo permalink

    OMG, see below: (Noynoy actually singing.) Well, he did serenade the dumb voters. Now, it’s encore time. And the crowd roared and cheered!

  2. Pugot Ulo permalink

    How appropriate, here’s another video from Jose Rizal:

  3. udf21 permalink

    The lesson to be learned is that always hire a good PR director prior t burning down your city. Preferably, someone who is excellent at deflecting blame from you.

  4. Ponse permalink

    Well at least it will be entertaining to watch our inexperienced and incompetent president fumble his way in the dirty politics of the Philippines. I just pray he does not do too much damage.

  5. it might be entertaining to watch – but when his decisions affect what’s left in our wallet – due to:

    a) low tax collection
    b) low investments

    we will be burning.

  6. ulong pare permalink

    … daaang

    … i hope it happens… soon…

    … burn flipland to the ground!… burn all the flips & squats, ladrones garapales, etchastera, etc…

    … i need space for my tribe… and start over from scratch…

  7. just wait for the next round of Ondoy👿

  8. Part of the reason I guess why he still beaming with confidence is Mar is there for him so there is less likelihood the damage would be so great.

    The only problem is when his own men would tip Mar shoes. And that’s where the fun begins.

  9. ulong pare permalink

    … daang

    … flips and katolickdicks archbisupsops will join hands, once again, in prayers to deflect oncoming typhoons and earthquakes…

    … pekeng relihiyon aka katolickdick will protect flipland from mother nature… if prayers fail, then, prez abnoy&magnanakaws will gather the hapless, helpless flips/squats… parade them in CNN begging for ukay-ukay/donation…

  10. Anonylol permalink

    I like to think of GMA more of as an Emperor Palpatine type character.

    Incredibly cunning and horrifyingly cruel and, but he kept the Empire running.

    I’d actually prefer that rather than some loon with a messiah complex. He probably can’t even play the fiddle let alone spell it.

  11. My prediction, Binay will be president in 2 year’s time. =)

  12. Hyden Toro permalink

    Depression is an illness that comes out of a traumatic event in your childhood. In the Roman Empire era. This mental illness was not yet known. Nero suffered from it. Caligula was at his worst. Other Roman Emperors were also depressive. The Aquinos are not immmuned of this illness. Kris Aquino, his sister, has some symptoms. Failed marriages; going from one man to another man. I believe, she is manic-depressive. She also wants constant limelight.

    Noynoy Aquyino has some history of this mental illlness. I have refered to a PsychoAnalast friend and a Psychiatrist friends some of his speeches; his body languages and his countences on his facial expressions. Referring his job as President as his Calvary? What the hell, he is talking about? If you see the job as your Calvarty. Why want the job, in the first place? Are you a Masochist? Or with a Mesiahnic complex?

    The job as President of the Philippines is a very pressured one. We have many problems. From insurgency to food production. You cannot depend on people to solve these problems. You lead, and solve them yourself. So far, I have not seen any program he formulated. Except the: “kung walng corrupt, walang mahirap.” An impossible premise of a program. If he wants to solve problems using gimmicks. He is a very stupid President. Problems are acted upon and solved. Not solved by mumbo-jumbo gimmicks. And some kind of voodos. Watch out, if his sanity will deteriorate. It is showing some cracks now!

  13. Philippine Aviation, due to security/technical issues, is banned in Europe, causing harm to the tourism and trade industry, and PNoy prioritized his wang-wang sentiments in his speech.

    Worst, time can be crucial when it comes to matters concerning the nation. There is nothing wrong with a leader setting the good examples but to be effective in leadership, he has to delegate things, and focus on more important issues. The Kotong issues were already addressed by PGMA -payments of traffic violation tickets and taxes through the banking system. Bayani Fernando has done a lot in MMDA.

    It is saddening and humiliating that the Filipino people need a President to tell them to discipline themselves. In Europe, Kindergarten teachers do the job – showing the children how to cross the street, not to litter, etc.

  14. silvercrest permalink

    At least he need not use explosions to distract attention. One call to her drama queen sister solves it all. I wonder how long will Filipinos patronize showbiz talk shows. It’s plain stupid to watch these people pick problems out of thin air and the bakya crowd glue in.

  15. As much as I agree with you, I find that your anti-Catholic comments cut a raw nerve… In another context I’d call you an infidel then and there. Long story short, not all Filipino Catholics are as dumb as you portray them to be. At least, not all of them obey blindly the imperatives of the CBCP here.

    On Noy, however, this article has a point; Noy is Nero, Rome is the Philippines. And all the non-Noynoyistas are Christians being pinned as the scapegoat for Rome burning. Except this time, the Christians are more numerous. AP commentators, go figure.

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