BECAUSE it is “Undas,” my boy, and the jury is still out on the etymology of the term (is it an acronym according to my editor and my man Frank Cimatu; or was it a derivative of the term “honras” according to my former boss in the department, cultural cognoscenti Prof. Junley L. Lazaga), I am reminded of my boy, Rep. Arnolfo Teves of Negros Oriental who, as early as July, proposed a bill that would make ghosting – “a form of emotional abuse (on persons) engaged in a dating relationship” according to Teves’s definition – an emotional offense.
So this is how I extend the narrative on the day we commemorate All Saints Day: to talk about that “ghost” thing. Of course “ghosting” is a fairly recent coinage among digital natives in close association with the phenomenon they call the “seen zone” which implies that a message sent through a digital platform indicates that it was “seen” but did not deserve a reply. It’s a step towards ghosting if the parties in this exchange of messages are “engaged in a dating relationship.” Teves goes on to say that this is “emotional abuse” towards the ghosted party because his or her “mental state is affected.”
In other words, if you do so much as ignore the amorous explications of the person you are dating, then you can be liable under the law, if this indeed becomes law. When that happens, as they say on this day of the dead, “patay tayo diyan.” In introducing this measure, Teves might just be probing into the depths of his own unchained melody, the cause of which he wants to draw penalties. But I see this as simply a condition of unrequited love. If this tragic event happens to fall on my editor Frank, I’m pretty sure he will not file a complaint. Instead, he will write poetry. How do you think he made it into the Hall of Fame of the Gawad Carlos Palanca?
Back in Frank’s day, the word “ghosting” was unheard of. You simply get blown off (nabasted) or if you are in a relationship, with or without rhyme or reason, the relationship can be broken off. I don’t see any possibility under these premises of establishing any legal determination for the purported emotional offense of ghosting.
However, if the relationship is drawn out and abusive, then perhaps ghosting can be regarded as an element in an emotionally manipulative relationship. When this happens, there are of course interventions as there are existing laws that provide reliefs and penalties.
Emotional abuse, being a category apart from ghosting, I feel that the latter is an unpleasant consequence of the rituals of courtship and dating, which sooner or later might result in the parties confronting each other. Because if “closure” is the outcome that Teves merely seeks through the filing of this bill, this eventual confrontation might cause tears to fall but hardly merits an indictment.
I think this measure simply lacks the exigency to be able to move forward. In this situation, it might just end up with a recommendation for consolidation with other similar measures, or as may be expected, end up being archived.
Not surprising, since exigency is lacking too in Teves’ attempt to revive the ghost of the Philippines’ brutal past by proposing to rename the Ninoy Aquino International Airport into Ferdinand E. Marcos International Airport, contending that it was during the latter’s administration that the airport was built. Teves’ contention is, of course, far from the truth since the airport predates the presidency of Marcos, Sr.
But there really is no need for Teves to do this since we have already resurrected the ghost of our brutal past by electing a scion and namesake of the late Marcos. How far forward will the congressman’s overreach be before he realizes that his proposal to rename NAIA is nothing but the fawning of a sycophant.
One fawns over a romantic interest and hopes not to be ghosted. In this ritual of courtship, ghosting might be averted through mutual respect. Perhaps a willingness to communicate regardless of outcome. But what do I know? I’m no love guru. Neither am I a lawmaker.