The "Alabang" Tag: Is History Repeating Itself?

Much has been said of the so-called Alabang Boys, the DOJ letterhead, and not to forget, the telenovela-style drama of the Brodetts.

One of the less explosive stories in this entire saga comes from the concern raised by Muntinlupa City’s chief executive himself, Mayor Aldrin San Pedro.  He has expressed concern over the tag of Richard Brodett, Jorge Joseph, and Joseph Tecson as “Alabang Boys,” which he says, tarnishes the image of residents.

After all, Alabang is part of Muntinlupa (Do take note that Alabang is not a separate city from Muntinlupa, as many people would think).

Tags, of course, in the context of media reporting, serve two functions. First, it simplifies media reporting.  After all, a reporter, for purposes of conciseness, may not be able to mention the names of the all three suspects all the time.  I remember how inconvenient it was in 2006 to be always mentioning the names of Reps. Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casino, Joel Virador, Liza Maza, and Rafael Mariano when they were holed up at the House of Representatives, after being charged with rebellion.  It was inconvenient for reporters to make a roll call of all their names — until they were finally called the Batasan 5.  Of course, this tag also made it easier for the public to remember the story.

Second, whether the media likes it — or likes it a lot — the use of titles makes any story more interesting, if not sensational.  Naturally, we take into consideration here that Alabang’s reputation already precedes itself, and thus, spices things up.  Thanks to 90’s movies like Alabang Girls, which really put Alabang on the map. It is the place where quite a number of allegedly-corrupt politicians and controversial personalities have put stolen government money in, like in the case of an opposition lawmaker we all know.

All things considered, Mayor San Pedro does have a point in raising his concerns over the Alabang tag.  Who wants Alabang to be ultimately tagged as a Tondo for the white collar and their brats?  I must say though that even before the Alabang Boys, Alabang has had its own share of image problems.

I have been living in the city for more than two decades, and what personally miffs me the most is that residents of the area are often stereotyped with the term that is the Spanish equivalent of vajayjay (did I get the spelling right?).  I believe that the worst thing I have read or heard about Alabang was its comparison to the show “The OC,” which was a show that had bratty kids from California’s Orange County.

I remember how funny it was in college, when I am asked about my town or city of residence.

If I said Muntinlupa, it does not raise any eyebrows.  However, people would joke and ask if I lived outside or inside the walls of Bilibid. if I happen to make the mistake of saying Alabang, it’s a totally different story.  People would ask, are you coño? So take your pick.

Well, I really do not say Alabang because when you are asked where your hometown or home city is, I answer it accurately (I live in Barangay Cupang).  I do not give a district of the city just to sound sosyal.  And second, it saves me the time of needing to explain: 1) Alabang is not a city; and 2) that not the entirety of Alabang is affluent.  Chances are, the Alabang rich really would refer to the residents of the Ayala Alabang Village, and truth be told, I don’t live there.

Mayor San Pedro has his right reasons to raise concern.  Although having said everything, at the end of the day, I believe that the public is discerning enough and knows better than to judge by mere stereotypes.  And if some people do not know better and are stuck with stereotyping, then the problem is with them and not me!  Nevertheless, one cannot overlook that stereotypes do have some semblance of truth, and may apply to some individuals.

I find very pretentious the efforts of some quarters who are trying so very hard to be associated with Alabang for prestige and happiness.  For example, when SM Southmall in Las Piñas started construction in the early 90’s, its sign was SM Alabang. A village in Cavite developed by Sen. Manny Villar just at the boundary of the province and Muntinlupa has been Christened Portofino Alabang.  I wonder if the use Alabang with Portofino increased real estate value.

Well, I have more important things to do at the end of the day than dwell on and worry about stereotypes and as well as the ignorance of some people.  While there are quite a number of sosyals and pa-sosyals in Alabang, I do know that Alabang is not a haven for drugs and criminals.

There is one last amusing thing, however in all of this.

If I remember my history lessons correctly, the etymology of “Alabang” is the Filipino word “Abangan”, which is where the tulisans or criminals would popularly go to either hide or anticipate crime (mag-abang) during the Spanish times.

So, is history repeating itself now?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *