‘Jologs’ is perhaps one of the strangest slang words to come from the Philippines. At its core is a jumble of meanings whose only common denominator is its derogatory nature. It has been used to describe various things from the way the lower class acts and dress to the lower class itself.
Like its many meanings, its etymology is varied and contested. Two theories however have caught my attention. The first involves food—namely that the term came from the type of food the lower class ate—and the other involves our entertainment industry. Though I am well aware that both theories are dubious at best, the fact remains that they both have meanings behind them that can be explored in depth.
The food theory hypothesizes that the term came from the combination of dilis, tuyo and itlog, the usual fare of the poor. Of the two theories, this is perhaps the more malicious of the two and the more straightforward to explain in terms of base and superstructure in that the ideology from this word denotes superiority from the poor whose choice of viands is limited. At its core, it merely notes that the rich eat better and therefore have reason to look down at those who cannot, which in essence maintains constructed ideas of one’s place in the social ladder.
The entertainment theory on the other hand provides a more curious study. The popular idea explanation is that it was term used to name the fans of Jolina Magdangal (although some say that the term existed well before she became famous). In terms of ideology, this perhaps targets the ‘foolish’ way the poor act and their poor taste in fashion (i.e. the current trend where the caps are only placed halfway on their head etc.). What interests me however is the entertainment aspect of this explanation. It is a very good way of showing how the status quo is maintained by those in power. Consider the fact that ‘jologs’ with this etymology in mind attacks our local entertainment industry, long thought by the upper class to be unimaginative and low-brow in its offerings—in essence nothing more than trash. The irony however is that this is what is being shown precisely because this is what sells. Local entertainment is the way it is because education and the betterment of society is not the industry’s primary concern but profit. It is fed to the masses by the very people who look down on it as a form of entertainment and when your choices are so poor, what else could you do but watch…and be judged for it.