“Walang basagan ng trip,” is one of the vilest phrases in colloquial Tagalog, reflecting a long anti-critic tradition in Philippine arts. When artists use the term, they are asking critical voices to shut up and smile: Don’t criticize my work (my “trip”); we’re all just trying to be happy here. Shouldn’t art, after all, be fun?
Being a critic and essayist was, one could say, my only means of self-expression. Indeed, I cannot create, so I just complain. I’ve made some complaints that have offended many (declaring OPM dead) and I’ve made some more popular ones (calling out Tito Sotto for being a sexist). And, yes, I am proud to call them complaints, because complainers believe that things are wrong and can be changed.
Welcome to the world of the second-class citizen in the republic of arts and letters—the much-maligned “tagabasag ng trip.” Basagan ng Trip: Complaints About Filipino Culture and Politics.