Anyone driving around the metropolis must have noticed this incredibly large “army” of dark blue shirted street cleaners with a big “PULIS OYSTER” printed on their shirts. For weeks I have wondered what the heck “PULIS OYSTER” meant. I even wondered if it was related to say a rotting oyster which has a foul smell. Not confident with my Tagalog skills and worse, Pinoy slang words (I use as an excuse that I was born in the Republic of Cebu), I figured I would ask around. After asking at least 6 different people, all of whom shrugged and said “ehwan…?” (no idea) or if you asked a transplanted Visayan the same thing, they answered “ambot…ah?!” (haven’t the foggiest clue), I started to get really perturbed. I would wager a plate of raw oysters that at least 30% of the people wearing the shirts have no idea what it stands for either. And worse, it seems they are multiplying like rabbits…pulis oysters here, pulis oysters there, pulis oysters everywhere…and no one I knew or asked seemed to bloody know what it stood for! I concluded that this must be the turn of the century equivalent to Imelda Marcos Metro-Aides in yellow long sleeve shirts from the 1970’s, but what the heck is Pulis Oyster (notice there are no more yellow shirted Aides…)?
Duhh, Marketman…just google it, ding dong. Pulis OYSTER – stands for Out of School Youth Serving Toward Economic Recovery. Egads!!!!! Doesn’t that just want to make you tear your kili-kili (armpit) hairs out one by one with excitement?!? Am I just in a foul mood? Hahaha. Actually, I am totally amused and outraged at the same time. A little more googling suggests the name was first linked to a bunch of youths in Manila that were deployed by a Police Chief to clean up the mess after New Years revelry on January 1, 2006. Wow, that was rather smart and useful, if you ask me (and I am serious). But then some brilliant mind decided to lift the idea, splatter it all over thousands of shirts, and deploy an entire army of street cleaners in Metro Manila under this moniker, acronym, catchy, bizarre phrase.
First of all, how the heck can out of school youth cleaning up trash be serving towards economic recovery??? Shouldn’t they simply go back to school? And what, pray tell, will the contribution to GDP be by sweeping up muck? Are they paid for their services? So this is merely an employment creation plan? Do they get paid enough to pay taxes that will help reduce our deficit? Do you see where I am going with this? But step away from that and take a good look at the “Oysters” running around Makati, or Mandaluyong, or elsewhere in the metropolis… most of them have wrinkles, for goodness sakes!!! Forgive me for being irreverent, but these are not spring chickens for the most part… Their average age appears to be 40 or 50 years old? When did they leave school, in 1980?!? Good Grief, if we are going to use a catchy ACRONYM, at least make it more accurate. Pulis OWOFONE – Out of Work Older Folks Needing Employment, or Pulis MONUMACS – Moronic Numbnuts Making up Acronyms, or Pulis ADOBO – Ay, Dehins Overtime, iBoto Opposition, or Pulis BASURA – Bigyan mo Ako Sueldo, Uunlad Rin Ako…
Frankly, the timing of all this, prior to elections is questionable in and of itself. Add that to the highly visible highway cleaners across the ENTIRE archipelago from Bohol to Cebu to Bicol to Palawan to Pagudpud with shirts as well and a sign everywhere they move, that announces the highway cleaning program is a pet project of the government… But what really riles me is that it does not, in many ways pay any REAL RESPECT to the folks who are doing the job. And they have a BIG JOB to do because the rest of us seem to consider litering a national sport. Why call them Oysters when they are not? Why make up fancy ACRONYMS to describe a straightforward job. Oddly, I have to agree with Imelda more on this, Metro-Aides were a far more accurate and honorable name; and yellow a cooler color (literally) and a bigger deterrent to running someone over rather than the dark blue shirts de rigeur today. Ah, but I digress…. back to food programming. Now don’t get me started on the “Metro Gwapo” phrase sweeping the city, or pink toilets…
If I were benevolent dictator, I would go further and simply make anyone who litters out of their bus or car window or as a pedestrian, serve 10 days on EDSA sweeping in their underwear… Maybe then we would have NO MORE need for paid Pulis Oysters… Oh, and I have one more brilliant idea, maybe we should get corporate sponsorships from Nivea whitening cream, or those Pond’s products constantly on t.v.; this should be a great group of subjects to see if the whitening creams do indeed work… tsk, tsk, I jest of course… remember, retain your sense of humor on this post… do not get hot and bothered on a Sunday… Marketman is only being half serious!
If you are abroad or in the provinces and haven’t spotted a Pulis Oyster, here is a photo at the MAC USERS GROUP of the Philippines, and if you want to see the original deployment reported in the press, see this link. I would be amused what brilliant acronyms Marketmanila readers can come up with, please leave a comment. I am throwing down the gauntlet for lee, from Bacolod, who always has good one liners… :)