Saturday, August 16, 2008


While there were many who wrote encouraging reactions to our last two articles, "Legacy" and "Beyond shame" (Tuesday and Thursday this week), asking us to continue writing the sordid truth about the persona and character of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, there were a few readers who tauntingly asked, "Hindi ka pa ba napapagod?" There were some who wondered why but for the "usual" noise from the "usual" characters, there seemed to be only cold indifference from the public-at-large to the burning issues of that controversial, nay, give-away MOA on Ancestral Domain with the MILF, or the clear attempt to piggyback charter change on federalism and the provisions of the pact with the Muslim secessionists. Where is the outrage, many ask?

Too busy with day-to-day survival, the average Filipino just blacks out the more lofty concerns from their minds, because at the end of the day, it's what's going to cook in the pot tomorrow that matters to him and his brood. And this, it would seem, is precisely how the evil geniuses in the stinking palace beside the stinking river have had it all figured out.

"Basta't siguruhin ninyong hindi kakapusin sa bigas at instant noodles," the Boss Woman orders, "forever and ever na tayo".

Have we been reduced to this state?

"Hayaan mo na lang yung mga Muslim sa Mindanao...mabuti nga at mahihiwalay na sila sa atin", an ex-seminarian who was a classmate in some post-graduate courses wrote. So myopic. So parochial. So very tribal. Absolutely no sense of nation.

But a soldier assigned in the Cordilleras warmed the cockles of my heart: "Ano po ang isusunod? Will the Ifugaos and the Kankaneys next demand a Cordillera Juridical Entity? All they need is arms, and then a declaration of belligerency, and the Philippine government will surrender. If I were Jose Ma. Sison, I would concentrate all the forces of the NPA in Eastern Visayas, or Bicol, and then follow the path taken by the MILF. As you wrote in your Abante column, "talagang wasak" na ang ating bansa."

Thank God for that soldier. Would that his superior officers think and feel the same way as he, never mind the Esperons of this wretched world. I was tempted to ask the soldier, would you fight, would you die, for this kind of government, for this treacherous commander-in-chief?

And then there are these excerpts from a long letter of angst sent by a lady whom I shall not identify, because her position in a multilateral agency might be jeopardized, even if in truth, she courageously identified herself:

"Every night, I come home and am compelled to turn on my TV to watch the latest turn of events. I am mesmerized by these characters (I see). They are not men. They are caricatures of men - too unreal to be believable and too bad to be real. To see these 'honorable' crooks lambaste each other, call each one names, look each other in the eye and accuse the other of committing the very same crimes that they themselves are guilty of, is so comical and appalling that I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

"I have never seen so many criminals roaming around unfettered and looking smug until now. These criminals wear suits and barongs, strut around with the confidence of the rich and famous, inspire fear and awe from the very citizens who voted them to power, bear titles like 'Honorable', 'Senator', 'Justice', 'General' and worse, 'President'. Ironically, these lawless individuals practice law, make our laws, enforce the law. And we wonder why our policemen act the way they do! These are their leaders, and the leaders of this nation ? Robin Hoodlum and his band of moneymen. (Robina Hoodlum and her band, perhaps? But then again, good lady Robina Gokongwei might take offense.) Their motto? 'Rob the poor; moderate the greed of the rich.

"It makes me wonder where on earth these people came from, and what kind of upbringing they had to make them act the way they do for all the world to see. It makes me wonder what kind of schools they went to, what kind of teachers they had, what kind of environment would produce such creatures who can lie, cheat and steal from an already indebted country and from the impoverished people they had vowed to serve. It makes me wonder what their children and grandchildren think of them, and if they are breeding a whole new generation of improved Filipino crooks and liars with maybe a tad more style but equally negligible conscience. Heaven forbid!

"I am an ordinary citizen and taxpayer. I am blessed to have a job that pays for my needs and those of my family's, even though 30 percent of my earnings go to the nation's coffers. Just like others in my lot, I have complained time and again because our government could not provide enough of the basic services that I expect and deserve. Rutty roads, poor educational system, poor social services, poor health services, poor everything. But I have always thought that was what all Third World countries were all about, and my complaints never amounted to anything more.

"And then this. Scandalous government deals. Plundering presidents pointing fingers. Senators associated with crooks. Congressmen who accept bribes. Big time lawyers on the side of injustice. De Venecia ratting on his boss only after his interminable term has ended, Enrile inquiring about someone's morality! The already filthy rich Abalos and Arroyo wanting more money than they or their great-grandchildren could ever spend in a lifetime. Joker making a joke of his own 'pag bad ka, lagot ka!' slogan. Defensor rendered defenseless. Gen. Razon involved in kidnapping. (That is news to this writer. I must have missed that news report.) Security men providing anything but a sense of security. And it's all about money, money, money that the average Juan de la Cruz could not even imagine in his dreams. Is it any wonder why our few remaining decent and hardworking citizens are leaving to go work in other countries?

"And worst of all, we are once again saddled with a power-hungry president whose addiction has her clinging on to it like barnacle on a rusty ship. 'Love (of power) is blind' takes a whole new meaning when PGMA time and again turns a blind eye on her husband's financial deals. And still blinded with all that is happening, she opts to traipse around the world with her cohorts in tow while her country is in shambles.

"They say the few stupid ones like me who remain in the Philippines are no longer capable of showing disgust. I don't agree. Many like me feel anger at the brazenness of men we call our leaders, embarrassment to share the same nationality with them, frustration for our nation and helplessness at my own ineffectuality.

"It is not that I won't make a stand. It is just that I am afraid my actions would only be futile. After all, these monsters are capable of anything. They can hurt me and my family. They already have, though I may not yet feel it.

"But I am writing this because I need to do something concrete. I need to let others know that ordinary citizens like me do not remain lukewarm to issues that would later affect me and my children. I want to make it known that there are also Filipinos who dream of something better for the Philippines. I want them to know that my country is not filled with scalawags and crooks in every corner, and that there are citizens left who believe in decency, fairness, a right to speak, a right to voice out ideas, a right to tell the people we have trusted to lead us that they have abused their power and that it is time for them to step down. I refuse to let this country go to hell because it is the only country I call mine and it is my responsibility to make sure I have done what I could for it."

The letter is actually much longer, but I guess this will do for now. If only more of us in this benighted land would have the kind of outrage this noble lady feels. Yes, Philippines; yes, Filipinos, there is hope. Feel it yourselves, in the marrow of your bones.

And if I might add a constant refrain: there is a God. Gloria and her cohorts might have overlooked this in their obsession and lust for power and all that it brings them, but yes, Philippines, there is a God who does not sleep.

Malaya, August 16, 2008