Denying the obvious — Hello Kitty is not a cat?

By now, almost every news-reading online denizen should already be familiar with the viral “Hello Kitty is not a cat” article from the LA Times. The world was shocked. Twitter and Facebook were burning with discussions and lamentations. It was as if the Pope was revealed to be Muslim. The reactions were even stronger than how people felt with Pluto’s demotion into being a mere dwarf planet. Millions around the world felt cheated, feeling that their childhood was a total lie. What remains believable on this earth now?

Fortunately, there isn’t really any “cat-astrophe” going on. Let it be known that Hello Kitty is indeed a cat. She was created to be a personified cat character so she is indeed a cat by pop culture standards, as how we have been accustomed to identifying certain popular fictional characters. She is as cat as Walt Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse are mice and Donald Duck and Daisy Duck are ducks. The silly viral story of Hello Kitty being not a cat started by the oversimplification of one L.A. Times article. Yes, Hello Kitty may have not been depicted as a typical pet, feral, or wild cat as University of Hawaii Christine Yano was told but she was designed to be a feline character.

Kotaku promptly published an article to help clear the air. They did their own interview with Sanrio, Hello Kitty’s producer. What the folks at Kotaku were told was that Hello Kitty is indeed a feline character, albeit an anthropomorphic one. Kotaku was told by representatives at Sanrio’s Tokyo headquarters that “Hello Kitty was done in the motif of a cat…It’s going too far to say that Hello Kitty is not a cat.” If there are those who argue that Hello Kitty is not a cat because she has her own pet animal called Charmmy Kitty, it has to be pointed out that Mickey Mouse also has a pet called Pluto. Having an animal pet does not make Mickey Mouse a non-animal character.

Want more proof that Hello Kitty is indeed a cat? Just drop by Sanrio’s website to see how the company responsible for Hello Kitty’s creation and marketing classifies Hello Kitty as one of their feline characters, along with her own pet cat.

Okay, so what point are we trying to make out here? How important is this issue to the Philippine socio-political setting? Well, aside from our trivial concern over the apparent misinformation going on, there’s nothing much. It’s just that this fiddle-faddle can be likened to many instances in the Philippine socio-political situation. It’s like hearing a politician or public official denying the obvious and (us) answering back with the line “Yeah, like Hello Kitty is not a cat.”

Just like in the following recent instances…

Pricey New Makati City Hall 2 Building Is Not Overpriced

Vice President Jejomar Binay denies any overpricing in the P2.7 billion 11-storey 31,928 square meter Makati City building along F. Zobel St. in Poblacion. The building was built when the Vice President was still the mayor of Makati City and his son was a councilor.  Former Makati City vice-mayor and erstwhile Binay ally Renato Bondal is claiming that the building should only cost around P700 million based on the cost estimate of one independent construction firm. He adds that the city ordinance approved when he was still in office only declared a P1.5 billion allocation for the project. Current Makati City mayor Junjun Binay argued that it cannot be compared to other buildings in the country since it’s supposedly a “world class” building.

Expectedly, the Binays are claiming that there was no overpricing and that they did not personally gain anything from the construction project. They are denying all accusations pertaining to the expensive building.

Yes, just like Hello Kitty is not a cat, the building is not overpriced. The accusers are using false arguments. Bondal even admitted that the P1,000 price he raised on the side issue about the supposedly very expensive cakes given to seniors was just a guess. So what if other similarly priced buildings in Makati are way taller and bigger? So what if the exhaust pipes and electrical wirings are not concealed? So what if it’s not actually a green building? The Binays say it isn’t overpriced so it isn’t. You have to ignore Mayor Junjun Binay’s statement on the possibility of overpricing because the official family stand is that there was no overpricing.

MRT 3 is Not Unsafe and Inconvenient, Not as Bad as What People Say

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya took the MRT challenge and claimed to have had a “pleasant” ride. Abaya took a ride on Thursday from Ortigas to North Avenue at around 1:00 P.M. He was with MRT 3 office-in-charge Honorito Chaneco. The gimmick effort was aimed at pacifying the public’s reservations on the transit system’s perceived unsafeness.

Okay, just like Hello Kitty is not a cat, our train systems are not unsafe. Just don’t mind the Transportation Secretary’s admission that an upgrade is overdue. Ignore the unusual number of accidents and stalling that happened in the last few weeks. Don’t be so trivial in pointing out that he took his ride not during the rush hours. So what if there was an accident that injured dozens of people? So what if unusual smoke was emitted from the southbound train Abaya rode in his test ride? So what if it failed to unclamp for several seconds? So what if there was a problem in the brakes? Abaya said it’s safe so it should be safe.

Billions of CHEd Funds Allocated to Lawmaker-Nominated Projects Are Not PDAF-like

Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Patricia Licuanan denied that her agency gave away billions of CHED funds to congressmen in a manner comparable to pork barrel distribution. She said in an interview with Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday that the P4.1 billion alleged to have been distributed a la PDAF was part of the “Tulong Dunong” program and does not qualify as PDAF or congressional pork. Licuanan said that her agency did not allocate funds for congressmen. They only welcomed nominations for projects from congressmen.

Yes, this is another denial worthy of the “just like Hello Kitty is not a cat” response. The “nomination” keyword quickly reminds us of Senator Drilon’s in-your-face “nombra” defense for DAP. Yes, congressmen never ever get the opportunity to directly touch the money allocated to them because they are merely “nominating” or making “nombra” for projects that need funding. Don’t mind the fact that kickbacks from government projects don’t work that way, that money may go directly from the treasury to the contractor or supplier and the “nominating public official” simply gets the kickback from the contractors or suppliers before or after they get paid by the government. Don’t get too worked up with the fact that the pork barrel system is essentially about lawmakers making project nominations. The Executive did not give money to the Legislative Branch through CHEd by funding projects nominated by lawmakers. There’s a different term for this scheme: “Tulong Dunong” as Licuanan called it.

There are many other instances of these “denials of the obvious” by our government officials. Listing all of them would take quite a space so we’ll end here for now. Hopefully, this piece can help remind everyone to be more discerning in taking statements as they are. Just like the Hello-Kitty-is-not-a-cat quandary, we can’t just take one person’s declaration as the canon. It’s important to read beyond the eye-catching headlines and to examine every available detail to come up with an informed opinion and reaction.

As originally posted on Blog Watch, Philippine Online Chronicles.