I never tried chewing betel (known here in Baguio City as “moma”), although I’ve been offered the nuts many times as a “substitute” for cigarettes. Moma, they say, is “healthier than tobacco,” is a better stimulant than caffeine, and is “100% natural.”
Now I’ll be the first to admit that smoking is disgusting, but I find myself revolted by the idea of chewing something up and spitting it out on road gutters, be it chewing gum or moma. Many of Baguio’s sidewalks are tainted with red dried-up saliva. Those not familiar with the sight of chewed-up betel nuts would think that a fetus has been murdered on the curb, or that a diseased wretch has spit on the concrete. Spitting chewed-up betel nuts is a different story, though: it looks like a tubercular person is coughing out phlegm.
I am told that saliva can carry communicable airborne diseases: viruses and bacteria don’t die from exposure. They float around the air and find bodies to attach to and wreak havoc upon the immune system or something. I don’t know if betel can be swallowed, but I think there’s no better way to dispose of it than to ingest it and worry about poisoning later.
Vice: to each his own.
In today’s issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Malacañang urges the Filipino people to forget EDSA II. To the Palace, forgetting EDSA II means “healing the wounds of EDSA.” To me, a willing participant of EDSA II seven years ago, it’s adding salt to the wounds brought about by EDSA.
To “forget EDSA” means to erase the causes and consequences of that fateful January day in 2001, when millions of Filipinos rose up against Joseph Estrada and made the mistake of making Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the President of this country. To “forget EDSA” means to forget the past, the present, and the future. It is an outright denial of history.
This is not about the matter of commemorating EDSA II: this is a matter of remembering why the Filipino people went to EDSA in three separate occasions in a span of 20 years. We are still pretty much languishing in the kangkungan not because we remember EDSA, but because there is every reason in the 7,107 islands of the Philippines right now to go back to EDSA. The reason for going to EDSA is never about commemoration: it’s about discontent. Nobody in his or her right mind right now will go to the EDSA Shrine and lay a wreath to commemorate GMA assuming the Presidency. But people will go there because they have had it with GMA: just as they did with Marcos in 1986, and Erap in 2001. As the Inquirer editorial points out, you cannot summon “People Power” at will.
We Filipinos have a saying: “Ang di marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay di makakarating sa paroroonan.” GMA, of all people, should be the first to commemorate EDSA II: she should be the first to summon a Presidential convoy to go there. She should be the first to lay wreaths and light candles on every conceivable place in there. She should be the first to know that had it not been for EDSA II, all the calls to COMELEC commissioners would not have won her the Presidency in 2004. Had it not been for EDSA II, she could have faced the real threat of an impeachment trial and a dancing Senator from the opposition that would trigger the ghost of an EDSA long past. Erap should even go with her on that wreath-laying ceremony: had it not been for EDSA II, we Filipinos would have never had that much-needed reality check of what we demand from a President.
We should not forget EDSA II… in fact, we couldn’t forget EDSA II. If forgetting EDSA II means “healing the wounds of EDSA,” I’d rather keep my dripping gash of a wound until such time my children see it, and ask why it never really healed anyway.