Slippers and Cinders

We all know the Cinderella story: at the final stroke of midnight, Cinderella ran off from the village ball. The majestic carriage became a pumpkin again, and her magnificent horses turned back into mice. All that was left of Cinderella in that ball was the glass slipper left on the stairs of the Prince’s castle. We all know what happened to that slipper, and how the Prince and Cinderella lived happily ever after. I don’t think they did make glass slippers in Kentex: they made “Havanas,” and all other sorts of flip-flops and sandals. People weren’t running away because Fairy Godmothers will reverse their blessings on the stroke of midnight, but because they can’t leave a burning factory with barred windows and locked exits. There was no “happily ever after:” just the pittances and indignation that came with a fire fuelled less by an errant spark from a welder’s arc, but moral hazards poured over 72 people who perished in that fire.

Conspicuous By His Absence

The long gray line of caskets at Villamor bore more than the bodies of fallen heroes. They were fathers, brothers, sons who lost their lives in a bungled operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. They were surrounded by grieving families and mourning colleagues. The Filipino people, too, grieved and mourned. Whatever hopes for peace shriveled, whatever dreams for accord withered. We were all moved by the stories of loss. We too, shared in the tears that welled up in the eyes of families who, in that moment, lost their sons. Of wives who became widows. Of children who became orphans. Conspicuous by his absence: President Benigno S. Aquino III.

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.

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.

Misimpressions

Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma called it a “misimpression:” whatever he said was not a summary of his position on the ongoing problems the people have with a crowded, frequently malfunctioning MRT. That perhaps includes his position on Metro Manila’s overpopulation and the MRT, that we cannot blame that on general manager Al Vitangcol. That said: Secretary Coloma himself has a “misimpression” of the problem. But Coloma is right, on paper: Vitangcol can’t be blamed for the congestion in Metro Manila. However, he can be (and should be) blamed for the problems of the MRT now, precisely because he’s general manager. The minimum expectation for any general manager is for jobs to be done, and done well. The train must be clean, comfortable, safe, and punctual. The fact that the MRT fails on all four of those counts – any regular MRT commuter can attest to that – means that Vitangcol isn’t doing his job.

Yolanda: Donations

So instead of spreading toxicity over the Internet (which we can do WAY, WAY later, not today, pag may time, so to speak), I’d like to take this time to help get the word out on donations.  There’s already enough awareness spread out there, so it’s time we ramp it up and donate.  And donate smartly. If you haven’t donated yet to help out those affected by Yolanda, please consider sending donations over to UNICEF, the DSWD, or the Philippine Red Cross.  Other aid organizations are found in the GOV.PH website, and all over Facebook.  If you’re reading this from overseas, please consider making donations through the Salvation Army, Doctors Without Borders, the International Medical Corps, or even through iTunes. Whenever you can, please try to donate money: while this may be a good time to donate old clothes we’ve outgrown or medicines we don’t use, I think that the pressing needs of our suffering countrymen demand a smarter, more useful donation.  Try to talk to your HR about giving a donation (no matter how small) as a salary deduction. From what little I know of development work (I’m not an expert), donating in cash is more useful for the following reasons: Cash is easier to hold on to and to transport than, say, boxes and bags of shoes. Donations-in-kind are more expensive to transport, to sort out, and to distribute than, say, boxes and bags of clothes. Those in the ground would know more about the needs of the…

Continue reading

Making a Million People March

For all this talk about “hijacking” and an exchange of words dividing a critical mass, I think a more sober perspective on the Million People March is necessary.  Not that I’m the most sober (irony intended) person to lend that perspective, but I’d like to take a crack at it.  I would suggest reading the pieces of Tonyo Cruz and Jego Ragragio first before reading this one, though. Let’s start with something basic and essential, but has often been downplayed throughout this whole conversation.  The fact to the matter is that there weren’t a million people in the Luneta march, the EDSA march, or the Ayala march.  So we bend the rules of math, and say that 70,000, 3,000, or 10,000 is equivalent to a million by virtue of metaphor.  And we bend the rules of marching as well, and say that those who expressed their support online through Tweets and Facebook statuses are part of the march, by virtue of metaphor. That extends to what these marches are all about.  Some people claim that all discretionary funds are pork, and should be abolished.  Still others claim that government needs discretionary funds in order to function.  Some people claim that President Aquino should be ousted (or be impeached or that he should resign from his position) because of his involvement in the pork barrel scam.  Still others claim that this is about government accountability and transparency, and not the ouster of the President. All that extends to why we’re arguing…

Continue reading

Thomas the White Communist

Without beating around the bush, here’s the reason why Thomas Van Beersum is hated and reviled by many netizens: he is a white Communist from the Netherlands who’s friends with Jose Ma. Sison. What’s there not to hate? We don’t like being told off by foreigners who think they know everything. We don’t like Communists who think they know everything. We sure as hell don’t have any love for Joma Sison, who thinks he knows everything. He’s easy enough to hate as it is, and when he’s hurling strong propaganda on an already-crying cop and disrupting the President’s State of the Nation Address, we hate him even more. Deport him. Let him go back to the Netherlands and fraternize with our enemy. Fuck him. Now I’m not writing this to defend Van Beersum’s actions. But he was not the one who made PO1 Sevilla cry. He was not the one who instigated any sort of violence when he was in the streets that day. His crime is this: he is a white Communist from the Netherlands who’s friends with Jose Ma. Sison.

What the F

The key stakeholders in the name of a nation are the people. It’s not the commission in charge of language, much less the national artist in charge of that commission. Just because “Filipinas” is correct (at least from the point of view of indubitable scholars of the Filipino language like Rio Alma), doesn’t mean we should reject the word “Pilipinas” altogether. To be fair, the vanguards of the Filipino language – the likes of Almario and the commission he leads – make a very good point. Our language is “modernized.” Nevermind that the consonant “f” is found through many languages in the land before colonization; but it is this “modernization” that makes us move beyond, say, “ispageti” and call it “spaghetti,” or our reporters’ penchant for the word “pamoso” when referring to someone famous. The more we reject unitary identity the more we struggle with national identity, and linguistic inconsistencies are a symptom of that. What I’m struggling with, though, is whether or not this is a problem in the first place.