It was bad news for NAIA authorities when TIME magazine reported the “Laglag bala” scheme of “planting bullets” in unsuspecting passengers’ luggage. It was bad when the BBC reported it. And when Mashable picked it up. It was worse when social media amplified it.
Well now the shit has officially hit the fan as this has been adopted as the “WTF News Story” of the current news cycle on media organizations around the world. News outlets around the world are lining up to highlight this instance of universal weirdness, perhaps as a fitting ironic WTF moment to top off their nightly news programs.
To add a more palatable international flavour to this local dish, the exotic sounding catchphrase/hashtag “Laglag Bala” (and you thought “Eat Bulaga” was difficult for outsiders to pronouce) is now labeled “The Great Bullet Scam” – or at least by the Australian press.
The Sydney Morning Press headlined their November 1 story “Great Bullet Scam Triggers Philippine Investigation”
The cheeky Aussies have wryly noted that “Manila airport’s plastic bag wrappers are doing a roaring trade”
On American right-wing TV channel Fox News, Greta Van Susteren’s “Off The Record” program featured the scam. “The Philippines may get mad at me,” Van Susteren predicted. “But this airport bullet planting scam deserves to be called out!”
Hats off to Greta for actually attempting to pronounce “Laglag Bala” and have it sound like a missing character from The Lion King.
No one here seems to be mad at Greta Van Susteren though. Mainly, we’re so embarrassed we just want to put a big paper bag over our heads.
The list goes on and on:
- The Straits Times
- The Christian Science Monitor
- The Inquisitr
- Xinhua News Agency
- South China Morning Post
- Boing Boing (Yes, Boing Boing)
and even The Journal of Turkish Weekly.
Even the United Nations is up in arms about it, warning its staff about possible shennagians at the airport. (Don’t they have diplomatic immunity though?) According to reports, ditto with advisories from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to their staff.
The government and even the government’s presidential candidate are all in a rush to say there is no such scam and sweep it under the rug, but hey, whatever. The damage to our international reputation is done and they’re still too busy trying to mount a cover up to do anything substantial.
Well just wait till this massive WTF du jour hits the American late night talk show circuit and spices up the monologues of Fallon, Kimmel, and Colbert (who might do more than a monologue, but a full-on skit). SNL writers are probably chewing at the bit to play up this bit of weirdness. And if Robin Williams was still alive, he could probably mine a half hour’s worth of comedy material from it.
Jon Stewart, if he were still on TV today, would likely characterise this as a “clusterfuck of monumental proportions.”
The world may have forgotten the humour of Imelda’s massive shoe collection, but now we have a winner who may just top that.
And then there’s Obama. The American president who is coming to town who is also known for his brilliance as an occasional stand up comic. Barack may not be able to resist a zinger or two in his speech after the state dinner. “So what did we just have for dinner, was it Bullet Adobo?”
Update: Also see – #LaglagBala – The Airport ordeal continues – in first-person photos.