Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Weekend jokers

Because I write articles three times a week here and twice a week for Abante, my writing chores end on Thursday when I file my Friday article. My weekend really begins Friday and ends Sunday. I normally write my Tuesday column either on Monday morning or Sunday afternoon. This was partly written on Friday afternoon, as I had planned to be out-of-town from Saturday.

A lot of jokes happened over this past weekend. The biggest joke, cruel at that, happened all day Saturday, well past the wee hours of Sunday. For many, even beyond Sunday morning. But that’s for the last part of this article.

* * *

Tony Cuenco, the gentleman from Cebu City’s southern district by the grace of Tommy Osmena’s consistent support until the last election, announced a “survey” he did of his fellows in the lower house. Who is their sentimental favourite for the presidency, asked Tony? Whether he did it by open or secret balloting, or whether he had face-to-face interviews as SWS and Pulse Asia claim of their methodology, Tony does not explain. Sentiments he polled, because if we go by their pocketbooks at the moment, everyone would croak like a PaLaKa.

And what did Tony claim his survey conclude? About a hundred representa-thieves are for Noynoy, claimed Cuenco. Of the other half, Manny Villar comes next, followed by Gibo Teodoro, then Chiz Escudero, and Erap last, his “informal survey” found out. Clearly, Tony’s “impressions”, as he himself puts it, are a joke.

He got the SWS Mega-Manila findings of Noynoy’s 51% and juxtaposes it on his own colleagues. Then he mentions Manny and Chiz, gives a sprinkling for Erap, but decides, like the party “faithful” he claims to be, that Gibo has suddenly jumped from 0.2 to the big leagues. It’s not extrapolation; it’s not arithmetic; it’s just a joke. Tony wants to ride on the Noynoy fever, that’s all.

What surprises is that media gave it due attention. Why, a broadsheet even bannered the story, as if the editors, let alone the writer, do not understand the science of polling. Of course, Tony’s sentiments are likely their sentiments as well. They publish Cuenco’s “impressions” to impress “facts” upon the unsuspecting. Propaganda, not straight news reporting.

* * *

Tony Cuenco himself is torn between his “utang na loob” to the Aquino family, principally the late President Cory, and his “loyalty” (kuno) to the PaLaKa, who has proclaimed another Cojuangco it’s standard-bearer. This looks more like riding on Cory, and riding on Noynoy, than anything else. Tony is no longer hunky-dory with Tommy Osmena, and since this is his last term as congressman, after finishing a previous three-term round, he knows not where to go.

Tell you what, Tony --- why not just retire? It’s been a long time. Haven’t your constituents tired of you anyway? In any case, please stop passing off your jokes as statistical data. Why, even Mitos Magsaysay of Zambales, the province of Jun Ebdane who seems to have tapped Garci to make him “president” next year, claims you forgot to ask her. How could you do that to a lady, Tony?

* * *

But here’s another joke: Silvestre Bello III, cabinet secretary of Dona Gloria, after saying his sentiments are also for Noynoy, now denies it, and says he was misquoted. “Are they doubting my loyalty to the President?”, asks Bello, who hopes to be senator of the realm.

But here’s where the guffaw comes --- “They know that I love the President very much, and we love each other.” (Oh my God! What will El Esposo say about this?”) Then Bello adds, “In the cabinet, we love one another. Even Secretary Romulo (who earlier confessed his sentiments for Noynoy), we still love him”. Ang dami mo namang mahal, Bebot. No wonder my friend from Davao, Luigi Santos, your father-in-law once upon a time, cannot forgive you.

* * *

And the following day, Kiko Pangilinan gets on the act. Even in the Senate, there are administration senators who are jumping ship because they are for Noynoy, the senator who would-be Noynoy’s vice-president (sana!) until Mar Roxas decided to beat him to it, exclaimed. Dadalawampu’t tatlo lang naman kayo diyan, Kiko, bakit hindi mo pa sabihin kung sinu-sino?

At least Cuenco can claim faulty arithmetic, and in his time at college, statistics was not yet a required subject. But Kiko? Twenty-three and you have to keep it a “secret”? Or is it because, like Tony, you’re also into “impressions”?

I recall when boss Jake Macasaet had a TB talk show in 1998. He invited a newly-appointed secretary in Erap’s cabinet? “So tell us your plans for your department”, Jake asked. “Secret!”, the cabinet member coyly answered. Boy, was Jake speechless.

“Secret”, Kiko now talks of closet Noynoy supporters in their Senate. The gentleman from Pampanga, Diliman and Pasay is fast becoming a joke.

* * *

There is a saying --- “amor con amor se paga”. Love is repaid with love. But in this rotten polity, amor se paga con dinero, mucho dinero. And the problem of the congressmen as well as the cabinet members of Bello’s kind is that Noynoy does not have the dinero (yet) with which to repay their “love”.

Noynoy and Chiz probably do not believe that “amor con amor se paga” as far as balimbings are concerned.

Which really means that as far as trapos are concerned, it’s really a run for the money, the mucho dinero of Manny Villar, unless their Dona cracks the barrel of public money to support Gibo, or is it Ebdane? These jokes.

* * *

But the biggest, and most cruel joke --- was really on us. And we heard, saw, felt, experienced it last Saturday. After incessant downpour brought by Ondoy, we realized that government in this benighted land hardly exists.

Oh, it exists in voluble press statements. It’s great when it comes to propaganda, though it uses the queerest and most unintelligible propagandists. Part of their communication strategy, I guess. You know, send in the clowns.

When disaster struck, and everyone needed government’s presence, we all realized there was hardly any. They’ve been playing a joke all these years on us all. Of course the scope of the calamity was overwhelming, but that does not mitigate a most underwhelming response.

Imagine scrambling around for rubber boats, and having a dozen or so, and being paralyzed from morning till night to do anything to save people left to suffer and die and cry on their rooftops? Saksakan ba naman ng mahal yung mga p…i… rubber boats na iyon at naghahagilap tayo kapag kailangan? And to think that just months ago, Gibo Teodoro launched an infomercial touting his NDCC’s disaster preparedness! Remember what T-E-O-D-O-R-O was supposed to mean, as crafted by a most uncreative talent manager turned creative director? Maybe even his principal can no longer recall that corny joke of an infomercial.

In the afternoon of the public ordeal, there were even radio reporters wondering why we could not run to the US of A for those goddamn inflatables with outboard motors. Hey guys, are you so jurassic you thought the military bases were still around? (For those who yet remember, now is the time to wish those f…g bases were still around.)

Flood-prone Marikina could have kept on stockpile a hundred bamboo rafts in their flood-prone barangays, primitive perhaps, but useful nonetheless for neighbourhood streets turned into grand canals. And rubber boats in their riverbanks. But to leave thousands stranded on rooftops well into the wee hours of the following morning unattended, that is rank negligence. In the afternoon when the rains had somewhat abated, where were the presidential choppers and even Hueys to try to help bring those inflatables or whatever else to Marikina, to QC, to Cainta, to all over the benighted metropolis sunk by tons of rain?

And all you got was a joke of a president playing-out crocodilian concern, showing “hands-on” propaganda at five in the afternoon. And a disaster manager who is all talk and hardly any preparedness when actual disaster struck.

Only the navy and the army were around to try with excruciatingly few resources at hand --- to save lives, and too late in the day because the police were hardly visible to do something about a traffic nightmare left to the elements to fester, and frayed nerves to discombobulate. Well into the night, and well into the wee hours, there was hardly even a traffic aide to somehow bring some kind of f…g order in our f…g streets.

* * *

Let the military take over governance in these benighted parts. Yes Virginia, I mean it. Replace this useless civilian government. The junior officers and their men; not some of their fat and fattened generals. These young officers are about the only people left in government with enough sense of duty, with enough discipline, with some patriotism left in their hearts.

Everyone else is campaigning, or stealing, or both.

Jokers, playing jokes on us all, and charging us humongous fees by way of taxes at that --- to watch, listen and experience their god-awful joke called governance.