Moira dela Torre is probably the most in-demand songstress today. With hits one after another, she is arguably the singer to beat in terms of commercial success. Dela Torre’s songs are also the soundtrack of several hit movies and television series, including The Good Son, Camp Sawi, and Love You to The Stars and Back. With these, her influence is so wide that it reaches even the youngest members of the population.
Meanwhile, dela Torre’s song Titibo-tibo is still on top of the charts at the onset of the New Year. However, there is something problematic about the subtext of Titibo-tibo; something that we should discuss thoroughly.
Homosexuality, in all respects, is not something that requires a miracle to be transformed, as Titibo-tibo suggests. Homosexuality is not something that desires to be changed even by the purest intentions of love. As it is, homosexuality is to be accepted, not altered just to conform to the standards of society.
Titibo-tibo has a beautiful melody that is radio-friendly. It’s so good to the ears and easy to sing along to. However, the trouble with the song is the heteronormative characteristic of its lyrics. Thus, it suggests that, as Merriam-Webster dictionary puts it, “heterosexuality is the only normal and natural expression of sexuality.” By the most fundamental meaning of heteronormativity, to which the song heavily relies, Titibo-tibo is not that beautiful, after all.
It may rather be anti-climactic to write about a a particular song currently enjoying large success. But, the world already puts so much pressure and hatred on homosexuality that people no longer realize that something is already adding insult to injury. In the case of Titibo-tibo, it is the subtext that makes it rather anti-LGBT although it tries to make light of the situation.
The success of Titibo-tibo, in fact, only highlights the fact that Philippine society is already accustomed to heteronormativity. Meaning, the Philippines is so used to males and females being the only accepted genders. Hence, it becomes a popular notion that anything that deviates from these norms could be remedied by doing something that conforms to the standards.
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In the case of Titibo-tibo, being a lesbian is treated by falling in love with a man. Why should we be bothered when it is an actual possibility? Because statistics and case study reports would tell us otherwise.
There are reported cases of lesbian women being raped thinking that it would make them straight. Hate crimes occur around the world, while more than 70 countries consider homosexuality illegal. Similarly, actress Ellen Page openly talked about how she felt violated as one director shamed her because of her sexuality. Even so, many other ordinary citizens claim to have been disregarded and abandoned by their own families because they stood by their sexual preferences.
Still, here we are in popular culture patronizing a song about how being a lesbian could be altered by true love. It’s not always fairy tales, as how we would like to believe. The world is cruel, and we need not to rely on love to save us. We need to believe that love transcends the fluidity of gender. Acceptance is the key, not some form of fairy tale grandeur that holds patriarchy in towering pedestals.
It may sound like making an issue about nothing, as Titibo-tibo may just sound like an innocently fun song to listen to. Nevertheless, the gravity of the implications of the mindset such songs could potentially bring is truly troubling, especially in a society with people already desensitized because discrimination is already an everyday event.
Titibo-tibo is fun and catchy. But it does not take away the wrong impression that being a lesbian is something that can be changed at the whims of our desire to conform.
The problem is systemic, though. It is fallacious to blame just dela Torre for her song. Thus, we should address the root cause of the problem. Education, in this case, is surely a good start on how we can evaluate the level of discourse concerning the LGBTQ sector. It is through this that we can have a better grasp of the situation, not just on the level of romanticizing what they are possibly going through.
In addition, to challenge questionable norms may be hard but is not entirely impossible. It is not wrong to desire a safe and sound environment for the LGBTQ sector, who needs a community that does not trivialize their plight.
In future events, moreover, it is hoped that dela Torre would come up with more music with a similarly beautiful melody as that of Titibo-tibo, but with better lyrical content. Her influence is so huge that she can revolutionize the mindset of her fanbase into something that addresses problems rather than creates them.
Editor’s note: Titibo-tibo is written by Libertine Amistoso for Himig Handog 2017.