Out of Touch

Sec. Jun Abaya’s right: he shouldn’t be offering excuses on the state of the MRT. But there’s a difference between offering and making them.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the MRT may not be the rotten deathtrap that many people paint it to be. Maybe people just don’t have the right metaphors for a very uncomfortable form of public transit. There’s always the overcrowded bus on a congested major highway, for example. Or prohibitively expensive taxi cabs. Or one may just consider buying a car.

But here’s thing: Sec. Abaya asks, why would anyone put up with it? Sec. Abaya claims that if ordinary people put up with it, there should be no reason why it’s “bulok.” Sec. Abaya also propounds that if you spruce up the MRT, you can even turn it into a tourist attraction.

There – with all the benefit of the doubt given up to this point – is the problem. A sense of being out of touch.

Continue reading

The Irony of Vice

Vice Ganda is right: not all who protest are really out there protesting. Some of them were just paid to protest. Some of them were just bribed; perhaps to buy a few kilos of rice for their trouble.

But there’s the rub: that’s the cost of dissent in this country.

I don’t think that Vice was being “elitist” or anything; everyone has the right to opinions, and there’s a lot to be admired in frank comments when everyone’s walking on eggshells. What it was to me, for all it was to me, is a betrayal of biases. There’s a big difference between people being on the take for dissenting, and how much is paid for that dissent.

In doing so, Vice Ganda reveals that we don’t put a lot of stock in our individual actions to move this country forward. In saying so, Vice Ganda also reveals that it has gotten to the point that the price of protest – for those of us who should protest – can be paid for in the form of rice. And in spreading so, Vice Ganda reveals that this is the quality of questioning we like: divisive ones, and not constructive ones.

What follows, I hope, isn’t “cyberbullying” or anything.

Continue reading

Love Letters

No one writes love letters anymore.

I can’t say that I don’t regret anything since we’ve gone our separate ways; I regret what could have been, but I have no regrets about what it was.

It’s always hard to write of love.

Love is that one glimmering grain of sand that you stop for when you walk along the shore.

Love’s reasons are as infinite as every grain of sand that goes in sand castles. And all that jazz, whatever it is you do to tug at heart strings, be it books or movies or dinner dates. Yet when the waves come crashing in, all you’re left with are memories, maybe even pictures, of that glimmering castle.

Most of all, you’re left with the thought that once upon a time, a palace stood in that bit of shore. An empire that lorded over seas and mountains, of a lovestruck King and his loving Queen. Once upon a time, love ruled, love reigned.

Continue reading

Throwing the Rock

In 2000, Edward Said – the man behind Orientalism and the driving force of postcolonialism – did something that most public intellectuals wouldn’t do: he threw a rock in the immediate direction of Israeli Army personnel deployed at the Lebanese border. Not that Said hurt anyone, but the act of throwing a rock was symbolic: defiance towards his opponents, strength for his beliefs, and solidarity with his people. More than that, though, I think Said threw the rock not because he could, but because he should. It was him acting on the strength of his convictions.

This was 14 years ago, way before Twitter and blogs and all pretenses of being “intellectual” (more on that when I feel like it). Tumult and the disruption of public order are the order of the day in a critical society. Although most of us prefer it done in the “proper forum,” where the tumult and disruption don’t get in the way of our traffic lanes, our coffee breaks, or the speeches of the President, for that matter.

Which brings me to Pio Emmanuel Mijares.

Continue reading

Making Skater Heaven

I’m not being a grumpy old man about skateboarding. It’s just that they need a place.

I’m a fan of skateboarding: I watch the X-Games, I used to play the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series, and the history of skateboarding – Rodney Mullen, Jamie Thomas, Steve Caballero, Bob Burnquist – appeals to me. I don’t skate (and I can’t, for that matter), but I do appreciate the thrill of pushing the limits that comes with it.

At the same time, though, I don’t want to see anyone get hurt doing it. I’ve seen people twist their ankles on an ollie up the sidewalk. I’ve seen at least five skaters almost get crushed because they’re dodging cars while the “Do Not Cross” sign is on. I’ve seen two or three office workers get bumped by an errant skater.

I’ve overheard some conversations that skaters should be “banned” from BGC. I’m not so sure about that, though. The most authorities can do, I think, is to remind skaters to wear protective headgear and pads when they skate.

Continue reading

This Is Very Black-And-White

These are comments – verbatim – from INQUIRER.net’s coverage of the death of Andrea Rosal’s baby.

“maganda yan para di na maglahi ang mga tulisan mamatay na sana kayong lahat na komunista mga peste ng lipunan”

“Bakit di niyo ipinagamot doon sa Morong 43 na puro medical workers daw. Reklamo kayo ng reklamo na akala mo may utang sa inyo ang gobiyerno. Maraming ibang nagpapagamot sa PHG, kaya dapat lang na unahin yung mga taong sumosuporta sa gobiyerno, hindi yung mga gustong pabagsakin ang gobiyerno”

“Hindi man lang nabinyagan ang sanggol. Kung sa bagay, hindi naman naniniwala ang mga Komunista sa Diyos. Theirs is godless ideology.”

“MABUTI NA IYON PARA MABAWASAN ANG ISA PANG KOMUNISTA PAGLAKI.”

“Maybe it’s God will this child taken away by angels to have a better life in heaven playing and not growing up carrying a rifle as an amazon like her mom and late grandpa. NPA have no one to blame but themselves.”

“Kill all these communists….kill them all.
Kilala naman lahat yan….pakalatkalat….panggulo lang ang mga walang silbi.”

“sinadyang patayin iyan ng sariling ina para may maisisi na naman sa gobyerno ang mga pesteng komunista na iyan.”

Few things disgust me more.

Continue reading

A #Laboracay Rant

Carlos Maningat writes:

“By bragging their #Laboracay escapade, they are also flaunting their skimpy ignorance of what Labor Day really is – which is about the massacre of protesting workers who asserted the eight-hour workday and other rights at work which most Boracay-goers are enjoying. But we cannot blame them, for their ignorance is only shaped by a socio-economic structure that is increasingly reversing the gains of workers’ movements and burrowing labour and unionism in oblivion.”

Ooooh, angry.

When I was younger, I would have probably said the same thing. Or close to the same thing: I would have railed on with complicated words and complex sentences. Then again, I’m in the twilight of my youth. I’m long past the sun and sand and surf and whatever you look forward to at the beach these days. I can happily lounge around the pool of some resort in hiking shoes if I have to, warming myself up for a date with the air conditioner and cable TV.

But this isn’t the reason why I “hate” #Laboracay. I have shallow reasons. That hashtag annoys the hell out of me.

Continue reading