A fortnight after the Philippine Senate ratified the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GAT) and three days before the annual observance of national hero Jose Rizal's martyrdom, the intertwining of body and nation was given visual expression by a libidinous prankster. At around 10:45 AM of 27 December 1994, Manila's Channel 13 aired an abbreviated segment of a pornographic tape that was unlike any other, for it had been suitably edited to match the lyrics of the Philippine national anthem.' Conveniently tucked at the end of a two-yearald anti-drug abuse video clip, the tape's music did not alert the station's techrucian as he thought "it was related to the approaching Rizal Day celebrati~n."~ When the unsuspecting technician looked at the monitor, he was shocked to see a woman's breast being kissed by a man as the national anthem blared "sa dibdib mong buhay" (roughly translated: in your chest that lives). Immediately he stopped the tape, depriving history of a more robust statement on the interweaving of the nation with luscious bodies. The incident hinted at the contours of a cognitive field juxtaposing Filipino perceptions of the nation and Filipino perceptions of the body. The prankster did not entirely goof. Following the seminal ideas of Marcel Mauss (1973, 70-88) and Mary Douglas (1970) generated from within the Durkheimian tradition of sociology, it can be argued that a dialectical consonance exists between the historical experiences and cultural categories of the physical body and of the social body. In Mary Douglas's classic proposition (1970, 651, "The
social body constrains the way the physical body is perceived. The physical experience of the body, always modified by the social categories through which it is known, sustains a particular view of society. There is a continual exchange of meanings between the two kinds of bodily experience so that each reinforces the categories of the other." Images of the human body and images of society are mutually detennining. In light of the reflexivity of body and society, this article demonstrates that the social body of the nation finds expression in terms of popular idioms about the physical body as perceived by Filipinos, especially those in the educated middle classes. This article, in particular, provides an analysis of the metaphors employed in what may be considered the most hotly debated policy issue in recent Philippine history: the treaty of membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) established by the GATT's Uruguay Round, which abolishes non-tariff barriers and institutionalizes the rules of a more liberal regime of global trade. The Ramos administration officially advocated the treaty's passage in the Senate. On the other hand, the opposition to the treaty's ratification-testifying to the democratic space enjoyed by the country-crystallized an unusually broad alliance composed of left-leaning labor groups and right-leaning business people, farmers and students, Catholic bishops and Protestant ministers, academics and purnalists, dissenters and ideologues, populists and opportunists. While a few public intellectuals supported GATT, the sentiment advanced by most opinion-makers was heavily weighed against the accord. The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) branded GATT as an "instrument of imperialist countries led by the United States to further exploit the resources, people and environment of Third World countries by way of global trade liberaliation."Condemning GATT as a scheme "instigated by the USRamos regime," the League of Filipino Students issued a statement calling the violent dispersal of student demonstrators in front of the US embassy on 10 December 1994 as "a defense of US imperialist interests in the philippine." Coming from elements of 'the Philippine Left,' these statements were positively innocent of China's much publicized unfulfilled goal to rejoin GATT and become a founding member of the WTO, and were apparently uninformed about Indonesia's position that a delay in implementing the Uruguay Round of GATT would "negate much of its original intent" to establish a "rule-based and nondiscriminatory multilateral trading system."In the heat of a highly insular debate,
Jaime Cardinal Sin ridiculed the 5.9-percent GNP growth rate for 1994 announced by the government, saying the figure was "as much hype as it [was] reality Taking the offensive, President Rams labeled the treaty's opponents as "negative thinkers" and "enemies of development"-" socialists and economic ultra-nationalists"-who subscribed to an "ideology" that had "long been discredited.07 Newspaper editor and columnist Amando Doronila tagged them as "synthetic nationalist^."^ So passionate was the debate that, in at least one drinking session that erupted into a heated altercation over GA'IT, one man was stabbed to death for defending the accord? As a moment of great emotional intensity, the debate was highly revelatory of the national pathos.
Aguilar, F. (1997). Embodying the Nation: Filipino Pictorial Moments of the 1994 GATT Treaty Debate. Philippine Studies, 45(2), 197-224.