Sunday, March 2

the rage goes on...

This article titled "The Center cannot hold" is written by Patricia Evangelista and published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer - March 1, 2008.

AS I TYPE THIS, there are others who write their own manifestos, compelled by chance and conscience and circumstance to plug away on keyboards across the country. Every few minutes a new entry flashes across cyberspace: Lozada, ZTE, indignation in its varying forms, pleas for caution, calls to action, justifications for inaction, the long narratives of disillusionment seconded by the angry and frustrated.

I can't pretend to represent my generation. All of us are faced with a choice, and the fact of my youth does not mean that my choices reflect those made by my contemporaries. And yet there is something very wrong with CBCP president Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo's claim that "Our youth seem to be very satisfied about what is going on in their lives." I cannot believe that anyone would be satisfied with this sort of life, with the rape of the Filipino nation occurring with daily regularity, and lie after moronic lie echoing from the gates of the Palace. Satisfied? I doubt if non-presence in an indignation rally is the only manifestation of public satisfaction. The millions of people scrabbling for a meal a day in this country do not go to rallies either, and yet I would hesitate to call them satisfied.

On Saturday, an article in Young Blood condemned all those who trooped to indignation rallies as essentially "blind and selfish clowns," who were either "misguided idealists" or "hypocrites to the bone." And while the writer spoke with righteous rage, he accused those "misguided idealists" of believing they have a monopoly on righteousness. What I find more astounding than his hasty generalizations on the motivations of all who protest the current corruption is his argument that all this rage against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a waste of time, money and energy; as if the billions in public funds lost to corruption is not a waste, as if corruption has not deprived people of the housing and education the writer believes they deserve. I respect his choice to stay away, but perhaps it would be best for him to understand why others choose to go.

Many have said that all the confetti, all the rallies, all the thousands of people who have crowded in Ayala last Friday can do little more than derail traffic. Perhaps they are right. But I will join the next rally anyway, because I believe that it is wrong, appallingly, incredibly, brutally wrong, to allow those in power to believe they have the right to mortgage my future because they are wily enough to claw their way to power. To be silent is to tell every future Filipino leader that there is no limit to power.

Everyone is dirty in government, a pro-Arroyo rallyist told me. And perhaps that is true, but it is no reason to condone corruption and rank dishonesty when we see it, especially when it implicates the country's chief executive.

And this is where I'll tell you where I stand. I do not wish to oust Arroyo, although I support calls for her resignation or due process by impeachment. I wish I could say that I believe in the rule of law and end there. But I live in the Philippines where the rule of law is applied selectively, in very strange ways. How do we impeach, if Congress refuses to allow it? How do we prosecute, if the Ombudsman sits on the case? And so it's the streets for me, because I see no other way to say no.

Once upon a time, the voice of a white-haired dragon thundered over radios and television sets, raging that a nation cannot be run by a thief. It was a voice that galvanized a watching country into the streets, and reminded people of what they deserved. Now the dragon is a senator, and Joker Arroyo sits behind a microphone and helps along the current cadre of thieves. I believe the administration has lost all mandate, I believe the President must be held accountable, and I will go out and rally to add one pair of feet to the thousands who want the truth.

I'll tell you about a friend of mine. His flip-flops and jeans have been traded in for slacks and button-downs, there is a ring on his finger and a giggling, laughing one-year-old boy perched at the crook of his arm. He pays his taxes, he calculates his family's weekly spending; he has worked nights in call centers before clawing his way up the corporate ladder. He believes, very firmly, in the rule of law, and the birth of his son made him even more determined to create as stable an environment as possible. And yet, he says, while a small hand curled around his sleeve, that he is slowly believing that the way out is the way of the street. He cannot stomach knowing that the taxes the government bleeds from his paycheck, money that can be spent on bringing up his small boy, is being tossed into the pockets of the undeserving.

Yeats once wrote of what he thought was the inevitable end of humanity, when "the best lack all conviction, and the worst are full of passionate intensity."

I am not very certain where all this is going. All I know is that so much has gone wrong, and has gone on long enough.

Saturday, March 1


There will come a time, really, that change will happen... that positions will switch - one will assume the task of the other, and vice-versa. For Alice and me, it started when we started working abroad... the change didn't actually happen overnight, it in fact actually evolved, and before we knew it we had switched tasks. First of it is when I started doing the cooking. I don't know, but maybe because of my hidden passion for cooking - and eating - I actually initiated doing the cooking everyday at night, after coming from work, and during weekends when we just stayed in the flat. I am not complaining or anything, in fact, I really relished it whenever I come up with a good recipe and Alice gives me the compliment. Cooking for Alice is a joy for me, and hopefully, when the kids arrive, I could cook for them also.

And so I cook. But I always leave the cleaning to Alice. Sometimes when I'm in the mood I'll clean before we eat, but normally I just leave everything in the kitchen and Alice knows that it's her job to clean everything when we're done eating. And it stayed that way. I cook, Alice cleans the dishes afterwards. It was the first switch in house chores that happened to us here.

Then, washing and ironing happened. Of course, back in the Philippines we don't do these things. We don't want to be pre-occupied with these little things since the bulk of work in the Philippines is just too much (if you know what I mean) for the family to survive, and thus we have our own housemates that do them for us. When we start working abroad, things naturally changed. We have to do our own washing and ironing. It started with Alice doing the washing of clothes and me ironing them. And then after sometimes, we just found out things had switched - I'm doing the washing and she the ironing. Thus another switch happened.

Right now, I'm waiting for Alice.

Two weeks before, I waited for her for two days if I remember right in the office because she has to attend to some important meetings. I remembered the times in the Philippines when she had to pass hours surfing the Web, waiting for my meeting/s to finish so that we can go home. Last week, Alice had been out of town the whole week attending to some important work, which left me alone in the flat for five days. It reminded me again of those times in the Philippines when I would attend a seminar or conference for a few days, and she calls me once in a while asking how I'm doing and telling me she's fine at home with the kids. In those five days I normally would call her and ask how she's doing and tell her in the process I'm already back in the flat after work and missing her. Then today after going back from work, her boss called her again to attend another important meeting with the Undersecretary regarding one of her works. And again I was left in the flat waiting.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining or anything. In fact, I'm proud of my wife. I actually thought what happening to her as a career woman shoud have happened to her way before, knowing her work values and her talents. It's a good thing this is happening to her now, and much more, in the international scene. I always thought she can do more, and go places, and make things happen. And the way it is now, she proved that I'm right.

Anyways, going back to what I'm saying - change happens. Before it was Alice waiting for me, and it was me spending extra hours doing extra work and building my career. And doing so, I could say that I'd been successful. All those times, Alice waited in the background, supporting me and egging me on. This time, it's her turn to be successful. And I know exactly what I will do.