Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Sept. 21

[shout-out to dear Joelito, who celebrated his 2-th birthday last Sunday, Sept. 21, the anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law; well Martial Law had already been declared a *few* years when he was born]

delayed post. i forgot i had saved this as a draft message last Sunday.

Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law 32 years ago today. I wasn't born at that time but there was always a radical streak in me, and when I was in high school, I devoured books like Jose F. Lacaba's "Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage" and Lualhati Bautista's "Dekada '70", recently made into an award-winning movie by Star Cinema. We were young then, and idealistic, myself more than most. We were riding on the tail-end of People Power and everything seemed right in the world.

Sept. 21, although the birthday of a dear friend, always serves as a reminder for me that people can be megalomanic and immoral, that they can visit upon their fellow men indescribable pain and suffering in their own pursuit of power. The Marcos story is the story of a brilliant man gone bad, and it should never be repeated. I had hoped to be a vanguard, a sentinel watching for abuses in government and injustice in the Philippines. Of course, that all went for naught.

I have turned an apathetic leaf and what mostly is a blind eye to what is happening in the country nowadays. I have become more engrossed in eking out a living and losing weight, in Buffy and CSI. But I still watch the pulse of the nation. And what I see, frankly, scares me.

People are forgetful. And it takes so much to break the Filipino people's proverbial camel's back. The Filipino people have become inured to suffering, corruption, and crime. A suspected murderer is gunning to become the next President. Bank robberies and kidnappings are on the rise, chalked up, nonchalantly, to the fact that elections are coming up next year. And the dictator's daughter is making what may very well be a successful bid for a Senate position. People are forgetful.

There are our politicians, more traditional than other, for whom public service is business and public relations. There is Raul Roco, not popular but probably the best candidate for President in the next elections. There is Kiko Pangilinan, senator, husband of the megastar, who may be the next big thing--is he really as non-traditional as he seems? There are Teddy Casino and Argee Guevara, the middle-class leaders of nationalistic left-leaning movements, some of whose battles I find ill-conceived and bordering on quixotic.

And then, there is me. I just write here, comfortable with my higher-than-average(-but-not-high-enough) wages, free internet and SkyCable, telling myself that one more person will not make a difference. Life is good... but for how long, I wonder?

One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample an empire down.

from Ode by Arthur O'Shaughnessy

Sorry, I said that I wouldn't write about Filipino politics anymore, unless it affected me. Well, this affected me.

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