By Ronald Roy, Philippine Tribune
Wishing to get off the earth spinning at breakneck velocity tells you you’re having a nightmare. It’s a hallucination or a bad dream, and you’d like to jump out of bed to find out if you’re alive. But you are unable to do so.
You struggle on knowing that you’ve not yet swooshed down a tunnel at the end of which long-gone kith and kin are supposed to form a reception line, all smiling with arms outstretched toward you. Then you vehemently argue the point your time has not yet come, even if you know your Listener should know better.
As the horror continues, you’re convinced you’re awake but are unable to open your eyes. You’re soaked in sweat but cannot move a muscle. You’re hard of breathing, but somehow manage to savor the exquisite freshness of ilang-ilang, and even hear it rustling in the summer breeze outside your window.
No, you cannot scream asking to be asked to join its troubled world of the living. You can’t because you’re paralyzed with fear and cannot even whimper, and your frustration surges as you lie dying in your own stupidity.
Dying? Oh yes, the ebbing away of life must be something like this, especially when your stupidity has failed at every opportunity to stop a small ruthless woman from ruling your life and those of your loved ones; a small ruthless woman who continues to cling to the pinnacle of power whence she can rule some more, steal some more, bribe some more and debauch some more; a small ruthless woman who will not stop until her local cabal and foreign accomplices have thoroughly achieved a systematic despoliation of the nation’s wealth and a merciless ravishing of its democratic institutions.
In the end, they will triumphantly cast their long shadows over a wasteland, where nothing will be left but the tumbleweeds of our brainlessness, some crumbs, tears and regrets the largest of which, of course, will be that ours will have become the bigger crime, not theirs.
Is there a hope of forestalling this grim epilogue of a much-flaunted story about Filipino self-esteem? Absolutely none, not until we’ve learned to shed off our crab mentality and colonial predilections, to cite only two catastrophic cultural traits.
The valorous sagas of our forebears will have become nothing but vainglorious propaganda. Pepe and Pilar will have become victims of their own social apathy and Bantay will have been transformed into a feeble watchdog with its tail pathetically curled between its hind legs.
This is the new story now unfolding in the searching minds of disillusioned historians, that un-jingoistic breed of chroniclers who scribble passing events no matter how they hurt. A racial shame of humungous proportions is what our future generations will probably need to be able to say they are proud to be Filipinos.
Will next year’s automated elections usher in the much-awaited dawn of a pristine political era? Big deal, not while the plague of pork barrel continues to infest the halls of Congress! Not while corruption dictates the tempo of the public service! Not while our cardinals, bishops and priests remain frozen in their timidity! Not while men in uniform brandish the gun not to safeguard the people’s peace but to advance their personal interests! Not while public servants are obsessed with being served instead of with serving!
It does seem like we are a glutton for backwardness and punishment. It seems undebatable we have as a nation chalked up nothing but a series of failures. It does seem like we will never learn from our own mistakes, unquestionably the highest source of wisdom and the shortest pathway to human perfection. Shall we forever be sticks in the mud?
It would be futile to discuss our cultural disasters unless we have identified their causes and those revolutionary reformists who can be relied on for their solutions. With respect to the disreputable pork barrel, for instance, only former President Joseph Estrada, to my knowledge, has openly denounced its practice as a major item on his political platform, and has come forward with a concrete proposal for the pork barrel’s disposition by local government officials, instead of by legislators. Certainly, the current set-up whereby the Congress remains under the mesmerizing financial control of the Chief Executive is one unspeakable anomaly that any democracy can do away with.
Needless to state, for this courageous defiance of what are generally regarded as opportunities for congressional graft, Mr. Estrada deserves to be cited for political brinkmanship, a leadership quality he first flashed when he ordered the demolition of 46 MILF military camps to save the Republic from dismemberment over 10 years ago. This, to say the least, would be that one outstanding trait of decisiveness which I have yet to see among the other aspiring wannabes in the presidential derby. Thank you, Norma (Escano), for bringing up this point about the former President.
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