Thursday, July 25, 2013

No wang-wang

While at Manila airport yesterday, I noticed a sign near the Immigration Counter that said, “Airport is a no wang-wang zone. Please fall in line to avoid embarrassment. CCTV-monitored area”.

I wondered what wang-wang meant.  Was it a Filipino slang for littering?  Or smoking? Or a codeword for ‘kissing’?  I was curious enough to check this out on the net later. This is what I found in a newspaper report of July 2012.:
Wang-wang mentality” and “wang-wang culture” were catch phrases often used by President Aquino in his speeches that reaffirm his commitment to root out abuse of power. Initially, he used the term to attack the powerful who made their way through the streets of the metropolis with sirens blaring. In another speech, he deplored the use of the wang-wang as a symbol of a mind-set of privilege. 
“The posters intend to convey a simple message. And that is to fall in line and follow routine and standard security practices at the airport,” MIAA General Manager Jose Angel Honrado said. 
“This should serve as a warning to passengers not to cut [the] lines and follow airport procedures,” he added. 
Honrado said the message capitalized on the popular street lingo for blaring sirens
So, the phrase “fall in line” in the sign is not a metaphor; it is literal. Thanks to these signs and strict monitoring, nobody is exempt from standing in the line –except for five top officials of the Govt and foreign ambassadors.. ‘The stricter airport measures were also meant to get rid of these enterprising airport personnel, including some police officers, security guards and even porters who offer illegal VIP escort services for a fee’.

I don’t know when or if India will have a “no wang-wang policy’ in our airports or elsewhere. Every politician is a VIP and insists on being treated so. In the rare instance of a celebrity choosing to fall in line like a normal citizen, we – the non-VIPs- don’t let him/her forget that he/she is a VIP. We fawn over them and act in an obsequious manner.

So, wang-wang it will continue to be for us. 



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