Home Opinion Columns Aladdin, Jafar, Duterte and Freedom

Aladdin, Jafar, Duterte and Freedom


A preacher, at church last Sunday, drew lessons on freedom from the movie Aladdin (with Will Smith or the cartoon version did not matter). He said that the embedded message in the movie was on freedom for Aladdin, Princess Jasmine, and the Genie. Aladdin wanted to be free as a street rat, to become a prince with all the riches in the world. Princess Jasmine, due to her gender in prevailing society, even if she is a princess, is unhappy that she is practically a prisoner in the palace without any say on legal matters prevailing in the kingdom of Agrabah. The genie, of course, in spite of his power to grant three wishes to whoever owns the lamp where he is imprisoned, wants to be free from having masters and from his incarceration in the lamp.

The preacher went on the continue that each freedom of the three were intertwined where the freedom of one cannot be attained without the freedom of the others. As such, happiness derived from freedom cannot be attained if the others are not also free.

According to the preacher there are three ways to attain freedom.

One is to be true to oneself, accept what we are and navigate life with what we have. This was true for Aladdin who was not free even when he requested to become and acted like a prince. Only when he accepted that he was a mere street rat that his character and true virtue was acknowledged; and he moved on from there to become a real prince of the palace. Another way is to be assertive as what Jasmine did by even pushing his father, the sultan, to change the law where she does not necessarily have to marry a prince. And the other is to be given the freedom by a master where the genie is wished to be free by Aladdin.

While the preacher was well meaning, using biblical passages to define freedom for each of the congregation to evolve happiness within themselves, he stopped there.

He did not mention that to achieve freedom there must also be an aggressor.

My mind did not stop there. There was Jafar, the wily royal vizier who rose from being a thief to be the most trusted councilman of the sultan. His highest position did not stop him from being ambitious to reign over the whole kingdom, kick the sultan from being the ruler, and marrying Princess Jasmine. Only Aladdin, who he had used to secure the magic lamp, became theprimary barricade to his ambition.

My mind did not stop there. In my mind, superimposed on the face of Jafar was the looney looking face of President Rodrigo ‘Digong’ Duterte.

Aladdin, to me, became the face of all street rats in the Philippines who now endure the sufferings of the unfulfilled promises of Digong during his presidential campaign. Unable to thwart corruption with his minions at the helm, he has buried the Filipinos underneath trillions of pesos in debt without significant structures for progress. His death squads have become more ruthless in their killing sprees, no longer just for those he considers involved in his drug wars but also against those who dare criticize his failings. There are no signs of created employment to bring the OFWs back home. Farmers are suffering from a massive drop of their selling price of their ‘palay’ due to Rice Traffication Law, horrendous unsolved traffic woes, selling out patrimonial resources to China, and others.

Princess Jasmine, in my mind, are those who are assertive, voicing out their discontent in the streets and in the mountains, seeking redress for all the injustices the Filipinos are suffering under Digong’s regime. They are assertive in spite of being red tagged as communists and repressed, jailed with trumped up charges, by Digong through the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. They are not being cowed even if the gestapo like forces of Digong had been on the spree of shooting their compatriots dead.

The genie is the weapon of Aladdin in fighting Jafar even if, for a while, Jafar had control of him. Eventually, Digong will lose his control of the genie, and, by his own wish, by his over thirst for power, he will eventually be buried within a lamp of his own, thrown in a far-away dustbin of history.

As in the movie, only the concerted efforts of the Aladdins, Princess Jasmines, and genies on the Philippines or in the world for that matter, will overpower tyrants such as Digong. Only in their realizing their powers as enlightened street rats, prisoners of their situations, and acting in unified wish could they lead themselves to freedom.

By the way, my mind flew also to Iago, the parrot of Jafar. Somehow, this bird has more character than the parrots of Digong led by Spox Salvador Panelo.

Thanks to the pastor last Sunday. I came out of his church on a high carpet ride, humming ‘A Whole New World’ for it is in the offing in the Philippines and elsewhere – sooner than soon. # nordis.net

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