Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
Another sad-looking or rather depressed-looking, and combative animal in there was the gorilla. I am not sure if this particular monkey is actually a gorilla but she happens to be the biggest monkey in the zoo. I safely assume she is a she the way she was pitifully stroking her human-like fingers as if cradling her young. I could immediately sense her quiet desperation as she bravely put up a fight to keep her composure amidst hecklers in the crowd. Some unruly bunch of men and schoolkids were trying to rile her up to get her attention. They directed obsceneties at the poor creature who might not understand the actual meaning of those hurtful language, yet undoubtedly feels the weight of it all by the sheer force and volume those words were repeatedly uttered. In retaliation, the poor monkey avenged herself by spraying them with water she ingenuously stored in her mouth. She blasts her mouthful of vengeance to unsuspecting onlookers. But some of the crowd is all too familiar with this angry antic and moves away in time to salvage themselves from the shower of water mixed with the monkey's own saliva. They cheer and continue to heckle the monkey leaving her with no peace. Trapped in the cold bars of her solitary cage, she moves and is left with no choice but to endure the loud stares and angry words directed at her. She has no room for even the littlest of privacy. I begin to think that if she has the chance to escape in her bettle-trapped-in-the-glass existence, the first thing she might do is commit suicide. Sadly, shaken by the venom of the inhuman crowd and human-like animal, I veer away from the gorilla never to return again in her spot. I snap photos of her, caputuring her oblivious stares and vacant soul.
So I tell my husband-toting daughter to stay away from the gorilla and move on to the birds. Surely, the birds must be the least violent creature in the wild. We stare at some brightly colored male peacoks with complimentary hues of indigo and jade on its backside. Suddenly, a pure white peacock opens up its fanlike tail. He is bereft of any color and as such the effect is quite dramatic. He beautifully stays this way for a couple of seconds but I fail to capture his enchanting image in my digicam. Then out of the blue, just as we are stepping away to catch one last look of the giant elephant and some other birds, a big pelican (or a pelican-looking bird) tweaks its long beak against a smaller fowl neighbor. I laugh noting that he/she or rather it suddenly sees its longtime neighbor and cage-boarder as dinner. The smaller bird escapes its predator amidst violent squirming and loud quaking and screeching sounds. The birds are not so friendly animals after all.
We move on to a group of cuckoos, a solitary parrot and a handful of crows or "uwak." The moment I see the black crows or "death messengers" I am reminded of the immemorial passage in the Bible which gives it its dubious dark history. Accordingly, the crow used to be a pure and white dove sent out by Noah to scout the remains of the earth after the Great Deluge. However, instead of returning back to to the wooden hull as instructed, it lagged behind to feed on corpses of the other perished animals. The master, knowing full well that the bird transgressed as it did not go back on its schedule, punished and cursed the bird to its now lowly disposition. Magically, the dove's purely white feather transformed to deathly black and hence became the symbol of greed and sin in the entire fowl kingdom. I feel sorry for the crows, children instantly recognize them because of this infamous biblical story.
Then we give a one last long look to the lonely elephant. This time it is quietly eating its regular supply of grass. It had a helping of grass suspended on its wide backside and which for some gravity defying reason remained there the entire time it was feeding. I wonder how it can stay vegetarian and keep its strength and stature. Where does it source its energy when it doesn't take even a gram of meat in its diet? Vegetarians would love this classic example.
At home, comfortably tucked in my sheets and dusty pillows, I tell my husband how sad the elephant at the zoo must be. I know for a fact that elephants live in herds. By nature, they are not solitary creatures like lions or tigers and any other predators of the wild. They usually co-exist in a tight-knit community to protect their young and their group. I just wished that the zoo administrators could find a companion to this solitary elephant. It may see and hear the presence and noise of the other animals trapped in this contrived and make-believe jungle paradise, but it is still not the same as a distinct elephant sound and elephant touch it may be yearning and missing all these years. "You have an elephant-like memory," a friend told me once. Elephants are amazingly intelligent and known for their keen memory. They remember the sounds of their partners and herd from memory alone. I wonder how long this elephant can keep the memory of its former loved one, former companion after its many years of being alone. The elephant's sadness, perhaps borne out of its aloneness, can be nakedly read in its big watery soulful eyes. (I later found out from Wiki that only female elephants tend to live in herds while the male elephants usually live in solitude, deliberately staying away from his group.)
I wish they (officials) could do something more for the zoo. They could definitely liven up the place by bringing in more youthful looking animals. The state of animals at present reflect the true condition of the zoo. The animals are old, sad and harried-looking. They may be constantly fed and watered but seem to be lacking of love and attention from the zoo keepers and visitors alike. They are hedged in their little corners of zoo paradise but are essentially prisoners every waking day of their lives. Some parts of the zoo are in bad need of repair and reconstruction. It would also help if they decorate the place with flowering plants to make it more attractive. Occasional vendors also litter the zoo peddling their wares of wooden snake toys, stuffed monkeys and various ice cream drops. I happily munched my deep-fried peanuts and calorie-laden chicharon while finding my way from one animal to the next. I think I may have gained two pounds while touring the compound.
Another image I wont forget in this uneventful jaunt is the ragged yet friendly photographer who offered to take my family's shot for fee. I declined as I brought my handy digicam given by my OFW sister. I wish for once logic didn't take hold of me and have said yes. He certainly looked like he could make use of some extra cash. His sheepish invitation and my quick refusal, which is what he may customarily get from zoo visitors, left an imprint in my mind. Poor people really outnumber the rich in my beloved country. On my way home, to save fare, we took the jeepney and I couldn't really help but notice how third-class this country is plying the route of scary Harrison Blvd. Street families, and not children mind you, can be seen sleeping contentedly on the sidewalks. Traces of poverty are everywhere, littered plastic bags and vandalized grimy walls that make me want to turn my eyes away. I am not certain I want to raise my child in this environment, in this country.
I leave the zoo feeling grateful again for my little comforts in life. That I have a little space blanketed from natural elements I can call my home. So many people out there have so much less than what I have and yet remain consolable in their daily struggles. Heck, even the animals in this country need help. I wish I could do more for the both of them.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I, myself, dropped by at the Glorietta the day PGMA arrived there. Forced by the relentless rain to the take the FX taxi bound to Landmark, I found the Glorietta mall virtually empty. The usually jampacked restaurants had only a few diners here and there. People are still obviously scared over what happened and cannot be fooled by assurances that everything is fine and dandy again. Around this time, teeming with eager early Christmas shoppers, the Glorietta shopping mall complex is almost always filled to the brim. But now, the place is unusually cold and desolate-looking. It still has a pungent smell which is perhaps caused by the unexpexted blast. Things will never be the same again. Business will never be the same as usual. No matter the amount of cajoling from government officials, including the president, I will never ever forget what took place on that unfortunate Friday afternoon. The lapse of security measures means that Glorietta can be targeted again and again. Although it is highly unlikely that it will be a target again anytime soon as the principle of "lightning not striking the same area twice" generally applies, still it is "better to be safe than sorry."
Let me start off by saying that I love the Harry Potter (HP) series. My friend Les was adamant I read the book way back in college. She generously lent me the first three HP books and midway through the third book of the series, I was definitely hooked. I was practically begging for her to give the fourth book as soon as I finished the third one. Curiously, the HP books had the same effect on my non-reading sister. I nonchalantly advised her to read the first book saying she might enjoy reading it despite her engineering background. Soon, she got addicted just like me and even bought her own copies of the book just so she could read and re-read it again.
I often say that my favorite book in the series is the second one. I find the second one the funniest and most charming of all. Harry, at this stage, is still a fresh and hopeful young 14-year old boy still in love and at awe with his new environment. As the series continues, Harry grows up, becomes accustomed to his wizarding world and shows his darker mature side. As most book critics would say the entire series is a "bildungsroman" of the main character, Harry Potter. As such, the first book, which serves an introduction to the entire seven-book series, is the shortest book of all. I daresay the best-written book in the series is the third one as it provides the best mystery of all. All of the seven books is basically a whodunnit mystery novel with a heightening climax from chapter to chapter. The HP books are simply "unput-downable" and you will end up staying awake all night as you rush to know how it will end. Highly controversial from the beginning because of its sorcery and witchcraft theme, the HP series breaks all of the record for the most number of book sold at the fastest possible time. We should all thank the book's author, JK Rowling, for making reading such a cool thing for children and even adults to do again. Children the world over would line-up the bookstores every time a new book in the series is up again. Personally, I find the series amazing because it is craftily written for the enjoyment of children and adults alike, and everything about the plot is highly original and creative. JK Rowling transports us to a new world, both childlike and magical, which is something beyond our imagination. She brings to life new characters and gives a new twist and look to ordinary things we take for granted. I for one believe that the HP series will the stand the test of time and will be adjudged as one of best books or series in the years to come. In fact, when my own daughter, nicknamed JK, (her name stands for those initials, plus I am such an incorrigible fan) starts reading, we will read together the entire HP series.
The last and highly anticipated book of the series came out in the mid quarter of this year. It was a bittersweet moment for most fans. They wanted and longed for the book's ending and yet they were reluctant to let it go. JK Rowling was clear from the beginning that she will end the series at Book 7 and yet I for one simply wanted her to go on. I wanted her to write about Harry Potter from his babyhood upto his dying day. Heck, if she could write about Harry for eternity, I would still be interested to read it one book at a time. I was lucky enough to get a bootlegged soft copy of the last book before it officially hit the bookstores. As such, I was able to read the book before fellow book addicts got their legitimate hard-bound pricey copies.
More recently, the last book, HP7, again gained headline news as JK Rowling surprisingly outed the reverent and almost godly figure of Albus Dumblebore in her book signing trip to New York. Answering an inquiry from a child fan on whether Dumbledore will ever find true love, JK Rowling simply said, "Dumbledore is gay." This answer elicited gasps and applause from a stupefied audience. I don't know what to make out of this recent relevation. It just reminds me of the time it was rumored that my fave Sesame muppets of all time, Ernie and Bert, are actually gay lovers. It was said that the producers of the show were prepared to sacrifice one character by letting it die on national tv as a result of the sexually transmitted HIV virus. (WTF!) Accordingly, they wanted to promote sexual education and gay rights to the conciousness of young children. While being politically correct, all I could think of at that point was, why can't they just keep my childhood favorite character innocent and childlike. So when I heard about this recent outing of Dumbledore, all I could think of is why can't she just let me keep this all-knowing and all-powerful godly image of this well-loved character.
Firstly, unlike others who doubted or sensed that Dumbledore's character might be gay because of his apparent lack of love interest in the series, I never once thought of Dumbledore as gay. My idea of him resembles that of St. Thomas Aquinas, John Paul II and most priests in general. Just because they lack an obvious lady love doesn't mean they are gay. That is not to say that all priests aren't gay because sadly, controversies have erupted over sexual indiscretions of Catholic gay priests. I thought of Dumbledore in this highest regard, his apparent lack of love interest was justfied in my mind by his Socratic love of wisdom and truth. Naturally, he wouldn't have time to think about human love as he was thoroughly engaged in his quiet and passionate love of wisdom and universal ideals. So all the while this noble version of Dumblebore was apparently incorrect. Maybe he is the same wise and venerable character I loved but his uncharacteristic lack of a romantic lady love was not all due to his scholarly quest for wisdom, but simply because of his sexual orientation.
I love JK Rowling and the HP series just the same. All literary works stands to be constructed, deconsructed and reconstructed to the author's and reader's content. In fact, in literary criticism, it is a rule of the thumb that the author must never interpret his own work, otherwise, he/she will unwittingly limit the reading of the work in one voice or light only. I am sure JK Rowling chose to stay quiet about Dumbledore's real idendity for a good reason. Revealing him as an openly gay character might attract unneccesary attention to the book and offend the sensibilities of her young audience. Although I know Dumbledore's sexual preference should not affect his noble status in the book, I still can't bring myself to reconcile this perfect scholar idea I had of Dumbledore to the outed "real" Dumbledore. It's almost the same as discovering for the first time that Sir Ian McKellen, who resembles Dumbledore's character in appearance and personality and plays Gandalf, the noble wizard role in another literary gem, Lord Of the Rings series, is actually gay in real life. I just dont get it.
I am not homophobic. I am consciously respectful of other people's ethnic, racial, and sexual differences. (I even have a lesbian friend.) I almost always practice political, religious and gender neutrality. It's just that when you suddenly find out somebody you thought of as the epitome of manhood and saintliness is gay, of course, my normal reaction is that of shock and fear even. Perhaps its the same as the people in the olden times suddenly finding out that the world is round and not flat as previously believed. They set their ship to sail forever fearful of falling off the edges only to find out that they won't fall at all. So your whole world and outlook suddenly turns upside down, inside out. You experience a sense vertigo as you no longer know which is which. I guess the world is really like that, its not a simple matter of seeing white as white and black as black. We live in a gray gay world indeed.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Everytime confronted by a unexpected tragedy flat on the face, I am always reminded of how fleeting life truly is. You can never really know when your "end" will be. You can just be strolling by the mall idly passing away your time and for all you know it would be the last minutes of your life. Such is what happened to the victims of the G2 bombing incident. Sadly, the metropolis is no longer a safe place to live in. The bombing incidents that happened in the last five years or so could have easily taken away my life just like that. I would have been robbed of my life, of my youth and of every potentiality I could ever become with hardly a blink of an eye. I must always remember this---to savor every breath I take, to enjoy every moment I make and to live my life the fullest possible way I can.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
"Happiness is a warm puppy."
Sunday, October 7, 2007
I just miss this woman. Her name is Ana Cielo, the latter name means heaven in Spanish. She used to be a close college friend and we even maintained our bond beyond the shallow confines of school to include working life, until one day she decided to become a nun. It wasn't a sudden, smack-me-in-face revelation for I always knew all along that she would take the plunge, it was just a question of "when." So when she did tell me about it I wasn't exactly shell-shocked by her decision but I wasn't particularly happy about it as well. It's not the same as your friend telling you that she's about to get married, you know for a fact that the change of status would entail lessened quality time together as friends, but for Cielo, her change of status would mean no time at all to share with her friends, family and other loved ones. She has to devote her entire time to her vocation. That is why even her immediate family, who very well knew that she would become one day a nun for she unflinchingly revealed her calling even in her younger years, was not totally accepting of her decision. But in the end, they, just like her friends had to relent as we all knew that this would be the only thing that would ever make her truly happy.
I write this note to let her know that I miss her so much. To say that she got me through the end of my college years is an underestimation. She did that and more. She was the one who inspired me study harder, as I was always determined to get a better grade than she did. She was always my gauge, if my test scores belonged in the median of hers (for she always topped the class), I would be perfectly happy and contented with myself. I was striving to get the better of her and was constanly upset if she received a point higher than mine, a fact I never verbalized though until now. She graduated cum Laude, the only person to do so in our class. However, not everybody knows the fact that she had no idea of her grade point average during her first and second years in college, as it never reached their house in a rural sea village in Batangas. She is a born genius, I would love to say. She is the youngest of four siblings, a product of a late and unexpected pregnancy by her aging mother. So they say, a menopausal baby would either turn out as a genius or "downie." Luckily, Cielo turned out to be the former, as she topped every class, every exam that came along her school days. She even managed to get a flat one in our Physical Examination (PE) classes for Pete's sake. She just topped them all, I guess.
But this not the most amazing thing about her. The world is quite teeming with all sorts of geniuses in variegated fields, both specific and general, both profound and banal, but she is quite extraordinary. She is a personification, a material presence and being of goodness. She has the brains but more importantly, she posseses the heart that makes her stand out as a human being. She also happens to my friend and I am so lucky. Whenever I think about the values of Christian ethics and standards, firsly I am reminded of JPII, the Pope of our century and my lifetime, secondly of Mother Teresa, the great nun of Calcutta, and thirdly of Cielo, my old friend and college buddy. I may not know those two reverred icons personally, but knowing her is enough to attest that truly, good people still exists in this planet. The quality that makes her goodness quite unique is that she extends this not only to a chosen few, which most of us are guilty of, but she gives it generously away to almost everybody and anybody who seeks her help. She offers goodness before you ask for it. I remember this one time that she offered free tutorial services to some of our classmates who experienced difficulty in one subject even if it meant inconvenience on her part. She actually had to stay in the class and spend time with people who are not particularly friendly to her just to simply "help" them. She did not crave for fame and had no political aspirations in our class but she helped them just the same out of the plain goodness of her heart.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
"The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is."---Winston Churchill
The quest for the truth behind the much talked about NBN-ZTE contract has become Arthurian in nature. Calls for the lofty ideals of truthfulness, integrity and honor are being made of the government officials summoned to appear and testify at the Senate. Following "Joey" or Jose de Venecia III's explosive testimony, the next man to be literally grilled on the proverbial kitchen sink or burner is former National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary and now Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Romulo Neri. He was apparently transferred to this new post after his former office flatly rejected the ZTE proposal. Just today, 26 Sep 07, appearing with Commission on Elections (Comelec) Benjamin Abalos on the Senate hearing, he recalled how the former offered him Php 200 million in kickback if he were to push through with the now ballyhooed deal. To quote Abalos, "me 200 ka dyan Secretary." He said he assumed it was P200 million “given the magnitude of the project...Siguro hindi naman P200 or P200,000.” Apparently, he couldn't stomach the negotiation, rejected the ZTE proposal and informed PGMA of the nefarious offer by Abalos. He further revealed that the President ordered him to reject the offer.
But what he and the president further discussed regarding the controversial project, he simply refused to reveal by invoking the blanket of protection offered by Executive Order 464. One must recall that this executive order, which was ingeniously drafted at the height of the Hello Garci controversy, bars pertinent government officials from discussing issues which involves “conversations with the President.” Essentially, it is an all-encompassing gag order which restricts officials from giving testimonies in a public hearing say, in the Senate or in the Congress, which could prove damning to the executive office. It is a two-edged sword which prevents the official from perjuring himself and the highest official in the land, the President, herself. As such, EO 464 is the main escape route of officials who are burdened by the knowledge of the truth but doesn't want to run the risk of outrightly telling a lie. They can keep their blessed silence by simply invoking this seemingly innocuous executive order and instantly free themselves of the task of telling the nerve-wracking truth or a convoluted lie. (It takes fun out of the game if you ask me.)
The real story behind the NBN-ZTE broadband deal is becoming more and more complicated, with additional characters coming to light as the days go by. With the plot thickening, it threatens to spill over and implicate the President herself. What does she truly know about the broadband deal? Was she aware of her huband's supposed contentious involvement? And more importantly, why is Comelec Chairman Abalos even a part of this issue when his primary concern in the government is the "counting" of votes come election time? Is there any special link behind his involvement in the deal?
In the end, we all just all want to know the truth. Truth that will hopefully set us free--finally.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
The latest government scandal to hit the newsstands these days is the National Broadband Network (NBN) and ZTE contract broadband deal. To put it plainly, this shady agreement amounting to US$329 million dollars (PhP 25 billion) was signed between the RP government and the Chinese company, ZTE Corp., to provide the Philippine government agencies a national broadband connection. ZTE will sponsor the loan and infrastructure for a mere 3 percent interest per annum which will interconnect all national agencies from Luzon to Mindanao, a supposedly a good idea as this will ensure faster and better services of the pertinent government agencies. Moreso, this deal will also pave the way for cyber or E-education to reach the public schools nationwide as they will be also given free internet access which includes a 20-30 minutes footage of educational materials to beef up their declining quality of education. This is purportedly a bright idea given the dearth of public school teachers and more importantly, their inadequacy of good teaching skills due to lack of training. It would be like hitting two birds in one stone. The government gets to resolve the lack of teachers or quality teachers for that matter, by simply giving away computers with internet connection to rural schoolkids. They get to have instant teachers, with quality education and skills by just watching live internet feed from the tv sets. Viola, problem, instantly solved! And not only that, this particular benefit is just a small consequence of the greater broadband connection. In theory, the deal will benefit the government by saving millions of pesos in terms of telephone bills and internet connection access as it will magically interconnect the entire national government agencies for more efficient and speedier public service.
It all sounds so good to be true. And it is. Two months after signing the agreement, the real picture suddenly comes all out in the open, ugly insinuations of muti-million dollar kickbacks by several high profile government officials were revealed by a virtual unknown in the Philippine politics radar. His namesake and father, is a political heavyweight, a presidential loser and wannabe for the longest time, but he himself is a private businessman who goes by the unassuming name Joey. His real full name is Jose de Venecia III.
Or No Deal?
More recently, PGMA announced that she was suspending the NBN contract because it was generating much unwanted "political noise." She reiterated that the suspension would be a step back to the cyber highway and E-progress that her government promised but that she was left with no choice as her political detractors were unneccesarily fussing over the legality of the said contract. New SWS ratings showed her satisfaction rating was at its worst, garnering a negative eleven (-11) percent approval rating, partly due to the recently concluded Estrada plunder case and the controversial contract. Still, government officials claim that the suspension will be a disservice to the country as this deal will purportedly save the government Php 20 billion in the first five years alone and Php 60 billion in the next twenty years. Apparently, the government spends about Php 4 billion annually for its telecommunication expenses. Where they got the exact mathematical figures for the savings is beyond the logic of explanation.
Ironically, it was Joey or JDV III who served as the "bridge" to link PGMA and JDV back in 1998. It must be recalled that PGMA was the winning Vice President of then presidential hopeful JDV. At that time, though a political novice, Arroyo made a good name for herself as a Senator (and was highly popular because of her uncanny resemblance to Nora Aunor in her political posters) but wasn't JDV's top choice as VP partner. His primary choice then was late Senator Barbers ( recall Garci scandal) and or Tito Sotto, the actor-politician, who subsequently lost in the 2007 Senatorial election, primarily for being an actor. Filipinos are rather fickle-minded in their choice of political leaders. At one point, being a popular tv personality is enough to ensure one of a stable political career in whichever seat and province or city you may want to be. But seeing that tv actors/personalities is no guarantee for a graft-free and corruption-less political environment, voters soon shunned these popular figures as suitable political candidates. There are always exceptions to the rule, of course, one major point in case is the Star for all Season and renowned dramatic actress Vilma Santos, who won a landslide victory as the governor of Batangas province. But still, the rule of the thumb these days is that you can't expect your pleasant-looking face and affable personality to assure you of a political victory, qualities which were good enough some five or ten years ago.
Indeed, the Philippine political milieu changes in the blink of an eye. One minute, you're the hottest political star on the rise and the next second you are out of the game. As such, it is highly important that one knows how to play one's political cards correctly. PGMA knows the value of this. If not for her adept political manuevering, she wouldn't be PGMA nor she would have stayed as PGMA. How she will temper the latest political storm resulting from this NBN deal is a classic study for all political enthusiasts and students alike. My bet is that she could still find a way out of this conundrum and maintain her mighty act that she is still only commencing the deal for the benefit and good of this confused nation.
So is it a deal or no deal?
Friday, September 14, 2007
Inspired by the lone summer trip that we took as a group of four single twenty-something girls five years ago, my dear old friend Les wrote me a poem which talks about the changes that happened since then and how change itself cannot be stopped. Aptly titling it, "Tales in the Sand," she likens the changes that took place between us, separately and together as friends, to the rocks that weather gradually to become the sands that we tread on the beach. Changes, she says, is inexorable, moves without our consent either for the better or the worse. I am glad to say that despite these changes in our lives, we have remained as very good friends. I post this poem here (without her knowledge) in appreciation for the many years of our friendship which began for the most trivial of reasons. Way back in highschool, Les and I became close friends as I remember her generously sharing her mathematics homework with me. She has shared so many other things with me since then and more valuable than those precious items is her gift of time and self. She has listened and seen me grow spiritually, mentally (and physically) over the years. Now, she shares her knowledge and love of philosophy by letting me "sit- in" in her feminism graduate study class. She is now my professor and I, her student. Indeed, the tides of time bring about unpredictable and crazy changes. I can't wait to know what will happen next.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Note: Plunder is a criminal offense legally defined as: "By taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence to unjustly enrich himself or themselves at the expense and to the damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines."
That Estrada is guilty is a well known fact. However, the thing that troubles a lot of people, particularly his sympathizers is that he was the only one convicted of such a heavy crime. The charge of plunder or simply put it graft and corruption in a massive scale, is an offense committed by almost everybody in the government. Sadly, power corrupts people and if you're not morally strong enough by nature, you don't stand any chance if you opt to work for the government. One ripple cannot possibly overturn the raging river. If you dont go with the "flow", you will simply drown in the sea of murky government affairs. They will brand you as an aberration, as somebody who doesn't know how to blend in the crowd. They will mistrust you and do overything in their power to take you out of position as you are not one them. Estrada may be guilty but so are the rest of them. How come justice is not served as swiftly to others who are just as guilty as him? Seems to me that justice in this country is never blind, it is partial and only serves the interests of those who are in power.
Estrada was found guilty for all the wrong reasons. Firstly, he will never be given a non-guilty verdict as this decision will undermine the legitimacy of the Arroyo government. Regardless, that she supposedly "legitimately" won a second mandate in the last 2004 elections, the fact that her first taste of presidency might be questionable is enough reason to convict Estrada. Secondly, the Supreme Court, in the person of then SC Chief Hilario Davide, presided over the oath-taking of erstwhile Vice President Gloria Arroyo to the highest position in the land, saying that the Estrada presidency has lost its "moral" ascendancy to govern. This means that the highest court in the land legally approved the take-over. The people then cheered for the "morally" conscious, church-going and family-oriented replacement that was Arroyo. Little did we know that morality has different shades and that being outwardly moral does not guarantee inward and deeply ingrained morality after all. Six years under her government rule will prove that morality is such a contentious issue and that one should not simply judge a book by its cover. Estrada with his philandering and Bacchic ways is no less moral than the churh-going Arroyo.
The Estrada conviction is hollow victory for the Philippine justice system. They caught a "big fish" but it was a fish that has been out of the water for so long. He no longer wields the same charisma and political clout as before. Compared to the current president, Estrada is no doubt more popular, but in terms of political strings and connections, he does not have the same network when he was still the one in power. In politics, the adage "friends in need, are friends indeed" holds true. Estrada had numerous political friends before as his was the figurative ass that needed kissing, but now that this very same bottom was literaly kicked out of power, his so-called friends have dissipated one by one.
Lately, after much reading, hearing and watching about the merits of the plunder case against Estrada, I came to realize that the 3 justices of the Sandiganbayan maybe truthful and impartial after all. Judging from the contents of their decision, it seems to me that the justices did base their final ruling on the dry facts of the case alone. Accordingly, they convicted Estrada based on the P189 million kickback he received from the purchase of Belle Corp. shares by the Social Security System and the Government Service Insurance System. They deemed this piece of evidence as irrefutable, incontrovertible fact as this was a matter of Estrada's word against the SSS and GSIS officials who bravely testified that the former did receive kickback and ordered the transaction. The justices also contend that Erap and Jose Velarde are one and the same after hearing Clarissa Ocampo's testimony that she saw Estrada signing bank documents in such a signature. If we only had a person of Ocampo's stature and credibility to testify against who real Jose Pidal is, then maybe we could know the truth and convict him as well. They also found him guilty as the chief supporter and instigator of jueteng operations in the country, discounting even the allegations of Chavit Singson, a close jueteng lord accomplice, that Erap received P140 million bribe from him. Given all these arguments, the special courts seemingly displayed honesty and integrity in their landmark court ruling. They kept the promises they made when they swore to be the just arbiters of the law.
Justice was after all served. I just wish it could be served to all.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
My recent birthday celebration had me thinking. What have I done so far for the past 28 years in this planet? Aside from mothering a lovable two-year old free-spirited child, what other significant contributions have I accomplished? Well, I earned my Bachelors degree at a reasonably prestigious university, worked for the government and been in various non-gratifying dead-end jobs, and well...that is all really. (I forget to mention finding a man who vowed to be my partner for life as I attribute that success in my emotional life mostly to him and not to me.) I am 28 years old and my friends keep on teasing that a couple of years from now my my age will no longer be contained in annual calenders, yet I haven't accomplished anything. I've had two failed attempts at getting a Master's degree and will most probably try my luck again at the start of this year. Considered as a sort of intellectual during my college years, I seem to have lost the passion for knowledge. My contemporaries have or are currently in the process of earning their higher education and yet I am here stuck in some brainless and thankless job, calling people who are not particularly overjoyed to hear my voice on a regular basis. The idealism, my heady days of intellectual pursuit, are all but memories of a quickly fading past. I long for the "old" me. Now that I am practically an "old adult" on the brim of becoming a young thirty-something person, I suddenly have this inexplainable longing for my past. A past that I never really enjoyed, but now desperately want to go back to.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Three contractors were asked for their fees to repair a White House gate.
American contractor: I’ll charge $900 -- $500 for labor, $300 for materials and $100 for me.
Mexican: I’ll charge $700 -- $400 for labor, $200 for materials and $100 for me.
Filipino: I’ll charge $2,700.
White House official: Why so expensive?
Filipino: $1,000 for me, $1,000 for you, and $700 for the Mexican to do the job.
Guess who got the contract.