A craze for "noynoying" is annoying Philippine leaders as activists spread photos of themselves lazing around with bored expressions -- a dig at President Benigno Aquino III for supposedly doing too little.
Government critics argue that Aquino, nicknamed "Noynoy," has sat idle while oil prices surge in the Philippines. College students in Quezon City popularized the trend this month by lounging on university steps to mock a "do-nothing president" during a protest, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.
"That our government seems helpless in the face of rising oil prices is nothing new. ... The real problem of our government today is the impression that the Department of Energy has given up on doing anything more beyond giving a small subsidy to jeepney drivers," Boo Chanco opined in the Philippine Star.
The jab has quickly become part of the political debate. When leftist politician Teddy Casiño criticized the government for not taking on bills to address oil prices, he told Philippine outlet Bulatlat: “It is no time to be ‘Noynoying’ when the economy and the peoples’ livelihood are taking a hit."
Trying to fend off the dig, the Philippine government released photos of the president at work, only to find them parodied on Twitter and Facebook. Critics made hay of the fact that one shot of the president with a stack of papers included a few remote controls, suggesting that he might not really be working.
Allies say Aquino, who has promised to tackle corruption, is being unfairly maligned. Education Secretary Joel Villanueva argued to a Philippine paper that the president and his cabinet worked until 2 a.m. and came back at 5 a.m. One provincial governor argued that millions of jobs had been created.
“For me, "Noynoying" means somebody who always tells the truth. For me "Noynoying" means somebody who is careful about the people’s money, not the kind of person who spends the people’s money carelessly,” Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II told the Philippine Star when asked about noynoying.
Despite the criticism, Aquino still has a 70% approval rating, according to a recent PulseAsia poll. He has been praised for cutting unemployment, reducing crime and steering clear of scandal in a recent op-ed that slammed "rabble-rousing Leftists and P-Noy haters."
But while Aquino is still popular, those polling numbers have slid since the president was elected less than two years ago, warned Val Abelgas, former managing editor of the Manila Standard.
"Aquino must now get up from his comfort chair and move," Abelgas wrote.
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Video: Protesters upset about rising oil prices lounge idly on the street in an act dubbed "noynoying." Credit: GMA News / YouTube