For a long time, Teddy Locsin Jr. embodied our idea of a cultured, well-read gentleman who was in touch with his emotions and yet not afraid to go ballistic when needed. In case you missed it, President Rodrigo Duterte recently appointed him as the Philippines' ambassador to the United Nations.
In 2009, we were in awe of Locsin's heartbreaking eulogy for the late Corazon Aquino. In it he said, "I did not realize it, even when I was already in the Palace, by the side of the President—among all her advisers, I like to think, the one who loved her most." (Heck, even if you weren't a Cory fan, you had to admire Locsin's eloquent revelation.)
In 2010, when Locsin was still a Makati congressman, he became enraged during the House inquiry into an alleged poll fraud.
Locsin, who was then chairman of the House committee on electoral reforms and suffrage, cursed at a representative of poll automation supplier Smartmatic. He said, "You sons of bitches! You had us standing here guaranteeing to the public and the world that even if fraud is committed, we would be able to trace it. We never said that fraud could never be committed, but you said we could trace it. But now, you tell me that at 10 in the evening, you could [cheat] and we would never know?"
Locsin has a way with words and this has served him well as a journalist. On ANC's The World Tonight, he does his witty "Teditorial" segments. Admittedly, his humor is often too high brow for mediocre minds (ours included) to comprehend.
And, yes, it doesn't hurt that the camera loves Locsin's mestizo looks. The man has aged well. He looks his age but in a good way. He's in his late 60s but looks at least 10 years younger.
But for all the good things we remember and still can say about Locsin, it seems that all is not well. More and more now, he has been making statements that needlessly provoke violent reactions.
In March this year, he made controversial comments in connection with the debate among presidential contenders. He tweeted, "English is the language of men. Tagalog sounds manly only when clipped and short like English." He added, "Tagalog should be discouraged. So long, so bullshitty, so useless a tongue for debate."
English is the language of men. Tagalog sounds manly only when clipped and short like English.— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) March 20, 2016
Tagalog should be discouraged. So long, so bullshitty, so useless a tongue for debate.— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) March 20, 2016
More recently, Locsin made a reference to Adolf Hitler in a tweet that swiftly became viral for all the wrong reasons. "I believe that the drug menace is so big it needs a Final Solution like the Nazis adopted. That I believe. No rehab," he declared.
@fauxillustrado I believe that the Drug Menace is so big it needs a FINAL SOLUTION like the Nazis adopted. That I believe. NO REHAB.— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) August 22, 2016
As the controversy over Locsin's Hitler tweet played out, writer Jessica Zafra expressed her disappointment in the October 1 installment of her InterAksyon column. She titled the piece "Obituary for the formerly brilliant."
Zafra didn't name names in her writing. Practically everyone knew whom she was addressing. She wrote:
"Loyalty and gratitude had blinded me from speaking. I thought that if I shut up, surely this vicious insanity would end, and once again we would be sitting down to a meal at which he would bring his own rice, steaming in its cooker, declare his love of HBO's Rome and Ciaran Hinds' portrayal of Julius Caesar, and bemoan, hilariously, the demise of his hair follicles."
Then again, let us admit that of late, Zafra's former mentor has been less hilarious and more incendiary. It often seems as if the lines between funny and downright offensive are no longer there.
It's not for us to say why he says what he says, but perhaps examining some of his most provocative tweets may help us discern if he's being funny in a way that our mediocre minds can't comprehend or if he's become a person that we're ashamed of admiring.
Check out the following tweets:
War on drugs is of such existential importance it cannot be weakened or compromised by a loose mouth. So zip it. We got a lotta kills to go.— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) September 16, 2016
Noynoy did nothing to save Mary Jane. He could have trumped up charges (like GMA case) vs Recruiter who really planted drugs on Mary Jane.— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) September 13, 2016
If I like making kulangot and breaking wind and I did those on stage at the Asia Pacific Forum would it be described as "refreshingly me"?— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) September 9, 2016
Killing druggies 2 important 2 be just gimmick. American war on drugs in Colombia should be model. Death lists vetted. Bullets not wasted.— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) August 8, 2016
What about we try this. We pretend we don't see the bodies pile up. Say for 6 months starting from Inaugural. And then we talk, OK?— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) August 4, 2016
OK, Kiko should die his hair like I do. He looks like a skunk.— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) August 22, 2016
@vallybelly dream on, your kind lick, my kind don't have to.— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) October 1, 2016
@BrendanRCrowe In fact, in The Night of the Long Knives, Hitler had his drug-taking homo Brownshirt scumbags killed by new drug-free SS.— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) October 1, 2016
— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) October 1, 2016
— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) September 30, 2016
@coziamrandom so classy of me for recognizing class. I come from an old family unlike you.— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) September 29, 2016
We confess that we find ourselves laughing at some of Locsin's quips. He is a master of words, after all. Other times though, we can't help raising our eyebrows and shaking our heads.
That said, we still can't say if Locsin embodies the best version of ourselves or if he's someone whom we don't want to become. Like Zafra, we shall burn that bridge when we get there.
Brilliant people like Locsin are hard to figure out. We of simpler minds only dream of better days ahead—when we don't have to work so hard to explain why people who should know better seem to enjoy saying things that don't do any good.