Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Who or What Created Man?

Who or What Created Man?

This is happening in America right now, as only such things can. Image hosted by Photobucket.comIn a Pennsylvania township called Dover, the district school board there just decided that Charles Darwin's theory on evolution is ultimately flawed and that it contained gaps as huge as the water we see in the ocean. And so, they decided to teach the students enrolled in their school system the idea that man existed due to no other causes but by the intelligent hands of God, and that existence on earth is so complex that there could only be a God behind it. This alternative theory to evolution is termed as "intelligent-design" concept and known some other times as "creationism", a philosophy on man's existence that is well-attuned to the story of creation as told in the Bible.

Now, the parents of 11 students from Dover School District have starkly protested this compulsory inculcation of the "intelligent-design" concept of man's existence and insisted that the usual scientific philosophy of evolution as theorized by Charles Darwin should remain in the curriculum of the said school and not any concept that is so devoid of scientific and empirical evidence. The parents also complained that teaching the "intelligent-design" concept would merely undermine the notion that science should be trusted completely, and should be believed as it should be. They say that bringing down science will only be bad for the kids.

It would be quite interesting to find out how this U.S. landmark trial will turn out in the end. Is man created by God or did it existed through millions of years of evolution? This is not the primary question that the U.S. Supreme Court will haveto decide upon but for certain, it would be so swell to see how the American justices will comment on it.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Symbols of Democracy

Our government, or the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to be more specific, is now beginning to act like a huge cynic further losing its composure. As if it believes that the sky is already falling down, and then it goes on a panic streak---yelling and hollering "the sky is falling!" If this is not pushing the panic button, then I do not know what it is.

Malacañang has recently announced that "maximum tolerance" won’t be applied anymore to any street marcher that does not boast of any rally permit and instead the police would take on “calibrated preemptive response(s)" as a manner of engaging permitless dissenters who troop into the streets, highways, parks and avenues of Metro Manila. This reminds me by the way of the term "preemptive response", a wartime idiom invented by Australian PM John Howard amidst the rising global terrorism crisis, to which every human rights activists in the world howled with steep protestations where such policing mode allows arrest and detention of suspected terrorist even with doubtful and hazy probable causes---thereby imbibing possible warrantless arrests.

Just yesterday, Metro Manila Police Chief Vidal Querol had proclaimed in no uncertain manner and in with almost violent emphasis that from now on, street protesters have "to respect the law" and that "Dura lex sed lex (the law may be harsh, but it is the law)". Meaning to say, police authorities would not just stare at a distance when the protesters begin howling in the streets of Manila, instead they would have to take them in, and take them in hard. Because of this, there could just be a rise in the number of arrests of street militants starting from now, and knowing how Manila activists are adamant as hell, there could be a Marcosian scale of street arrests once more, as if the dreaded members of the now defunct Philippine Constrabulary have resurrected from the dead in order to scour the eskinitas and slums of Manila for suspected activists. This is a fearful image in my mind that I am not surprised now if the national anxiety for a return to martial rule is at an all-time high.

To be sure, the constitutionally protected right to peaceful assembly (like political rallies, religious parades, labor protests, etc.) is one liberty that is held dearest by the Filipino people, and one mode of public act that has certainly helped shaped our history through the years, and what we have now become. From the moment those valiant Katipuneros tore angrily their cedulas as a manner of civil disobedience against the tyrannical Spanish conquistadors in the days so old to recollect to the boisterous street singing in Mendiola under Martial hands of Marcos, public assembly had always shown its benefits to us even while admitting that at times, they are just inconvenient and injurious to public peace and order.

In our legal jurisprudence, the freedom of assembly is a constitutionally guaranteed freedom although it is not a freedom absolute (just like any other freedom mentioned in the Bill of Rights). Juridical precedence lays out clearly how this freedom may be limited under a number of tests foremost among are the “Clear and Present Danger Rule” and “The Balancing of Interest Test”. In the clear-and-present-danger rule, any public congregation of people may not be permitted or be impeded immediately if such assembly actually harms the peace of the land. Not only ordinary and common peace we know in the streets but the assembly must be violent enough or seditious enough so as to bring disruption and danger to national peace, to the extent of directly endangering the present status quo or the government. If the assembly is far from directly harming national peace and order, it shall pass the clear and present danger rule and may not be prevented by any means. The key word here is “direct”.

In the balancing-of-interest test, the authorities go on weighing the effect of a particular public assembly, whether or not it harms directly our national interest. This is a much simpler test than the one mentioned above where it is only to be determined if actually, and not by just mere speculation and estimate, that such and such rally poses grave danger to the status quo.

Among other conditions, rallies are permitted in so long as the congregation of people shall not impede or halt public functions or duties, or obstruct the natural flow of people and vehicles. If street protesters fulfill the conditions set in our laws and legal precedence, and pass legal tests for legality and propriety of public assemblies, then “maximum tolerance” must still be applied to them by the police authorities. The marches must go on. The rallies must remain. They are sacred symbols of democracy.

Let us not forget that if not for the angry marches of the people in 1986, we would have not toppled completely a ruinous dictator and there would have been no EDSA Revolution to speak of, or People Power to breathe out into the ears of our young at present.

Without marches and rallies, the scandal-prone administration of Joseph Estrada would have brought us down completely towards economic hell and President Arroyo would not have been in office right now in the first place. She should know that and at least she would be grateful for that.

And yet now, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has made known without any pretense how she had become so allergic to street protests that she had virtually ordered a Marcosian-like attitude towards militants with the so-called “calibrated preemptive response” I wonder how calibrated the response would be. The President must have not realized this, by declaring an all-out war against street militants, she had just showed her great inclination towards autocracy and the people might just one day believe that she could really have the temerity to waddle into martial rule. The signs and symptoms are present and if the people would finally believe that she could really do such crazy thing, that’ll be the day that she might just regret completely.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Over gallons and gallons of tuba ---the quintessentially popular Filipino beverage made out of palm or coconut trees--- I once in a while congregate with some friends from the neighborhood. I am not really so inclined to wallow on the native wine but lately, I had the keenest desire to socialize with the people I know just across the street and thus, I had grown fonder and fonder of the bittersweet taste of tuba every time I went out and join the men from the neighborhood. I wasn't as outgoing as I am now before where I usually stay indoor even during the weekends, reading piles of magazines and newspapers with the television always blaring in the living room. But once about six months ago, a familiar face from our vicinity invited me to a birthday celebration and there were just a lot of drinking that day and then I tasted tuba as the tip of my tongue felt the rich saccharine quality of the beverage that went with a touch of savory bitterness at the end. Not that it was the first time that I have tasted the native drink. When I was in college, I clearly remember one sojourn into the mountainside just outside the city limits and during a stopover to a very small but neat sari-sari store, we were offered to buy a gallon of fresh tuba just newly taken out of the palms of the coconut tree just standing by that store. One of my companions were very adventurous that day and so we sat down to finish about two gallons of tuba. The first time I tasted it, I thought it was so smooth to the taste and so cool as it enters the mouth. There was one problem for me though about the drink---the smell is a little bit overpowering especially when you already have more than what you should be drinking.

But now, I can easily ignore the stench. Perhaps, one can get used to it through some time and become oblivious to the smell completely. One of my friend from the neighborhood once declaimed that tuba is the grape wine of the Philippines, that by drinking it, we somehow recollect a part of the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ, where in the past He had often convened with His disciples through bottles and bottles of grape wine. I responded quite positively to this very keen observation from a friend and I said that maybe, if Our Lord Christ were born in our country, He would have enjoyed the exotic taste of tuba.

Tuba is actually constituted by fermenting the sap extracted from the palm leaves of coconut trees. It is the beverage of choice among the people from the lowlands as well as the hinterlands---the farmers, the fishermen, the laborers and even the tricycle drivers. You could say it is the condiment that soothes the ailing bodice of the masses, the magical wine that inspires the laborer to labor for more and the rural lover to serenade more ardently and sing more ballads, with gusto, while the moon is so full at twilight time.

Through this magical wine, I have known many new friends that speak to me and relate to me like they have known me for a thousand years. We converse at times of some vacuous things in life, some foolishness of youth, about some fleeting things like love and lovers, even of such frivolous things as the number of stars in the sky, and we became gleeful somehow of these fleeting things and our laughters resonate through the windy atmosphere of our neighborhood. But sometime, we talk of the more salient part of life, like the families we are responsible for, the children we rear and educate as well as the harshness of the economy and the stinging effect of rising prices to our shallow pockets.

Lustre Street, if you could only observed more closely, is a cornucopia of everyday reality. Some part of the neighborhood consist of the better-positioned in life with their houses newly-painted while they parade their classy automobiles as they pass by us. In the larger portion of the community dwells the more humble inhabitants and even the poorer ones, as small wooden houses outnumber the large ones by a ratio of fifty to one. Most of my friends are carpenters and masons while others drive the pedicab and some sell fish in the market. And then there are some of them who take their daily bread by carrying sacks and sacks of copra over their very young bodies, day-in and day-out. I have learned that a laborer in the port area earns only about fifty pesos after carrying sacks and sacks of load for almost a day. I find these situation so sad and regrettable. I wonder if the fifty pesos would suffice to answer the cost of food on the table, the fare to workplaces and for the education of their children. I guess, not. I guess they could not do anything but accept the lack of so many things in life. And I guess, with tuba on hand, they often cure the tiredness of their swollen muscles and empty stomachs through gallons and gallons of it, as if the native drink is the narcotic that relieves all the pains of poverty.

And then there are those who just do not have any form of permanent livelihood, who merely stands by the street while waiting for some opportunity for work. They often ask if somebody needed to have the grasses cut in their lawns or if they needed repairs on their toilets. They are often still so young to carry copra at the port area or whose frailty in physique is not as virile fit for a port laborer.

Even those friends I have who are accomplished carpenters and masons, they often complain that many times, work is harder to find. A group of them---Nonoy, Dan and Erwin---had just finished six-month worth of construction work on a plea market but now, they have gone for almost two weeks without work, and of course without any income for their households. Nyor Tony and another Dan on the one hand are still waiting for a certain Peter to arrive from out-of-town in order for their work on a bungalow within the neighborhood to resume. They too had not worked for many weeks. Toti and Paco have been contracted for some painting jobs just once a week and so they still have a problem where to source their daily bread during the rest of the week. Dodong was luckier. He had found employment in a government project in Barangay Ayala and pay is more than average.

Often, the people I know in the neighborhood paints the whole picture of hardship and constant struggle by the Filipino people at present where even those who are willing to work upon harsh conditions still could not find work. Even for carpenters and masons, the opportunity to find the means of livelihood is still very difficult, like threading the very small eye of a needle. Where in the world our country had gone too? To the dogs? There is a sort of panic in my mind thinking how many of our fellow countrymen have long endured the harshness of poverty and lack of opportunity. If only our senators and congressmen, jueteng lords, tycoons, hardware owners, the cabinet members, the President herself, the big business people, the bankers, the mayors and the governors, the political strategists, the U.S. envoys, the ambassadors, the mall owners, the manufacturers and the lot could even just for one day see for themselves first hand, upon close inspection and somehow experience the difficulties many of our countrymen suffers everyday, every time the sun rises from the east and settles in the west, then perhaps they would stop all their follies, all their bickering like who has the bigger pork barrel and who has lesser. If they could only fully comprehend the extent of our people's suffering, then maybe they'd all become less greedy and not full of self-interest as they are right now, as suddenly they would be patriotic and altruistic enough to help alleviate the plight of the poor amongst us, not next year or next month, but now, this moment, ahora mismo!

And so with my carpenter friends who sometimes have work and most of the time logging around and walking about because work is not at hand, I just said to them once that I wish there would be more buildings to be constructed, more houses to be built, more roads to be paved, more walls to be painted, more sand and gravel to be melded and more cement to be poured. By then, they can have work almost all the time.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A Comical Turn

Now the espionage drama, or the to put in another sense, the U.S. knee-deep involvement into our political affairs has now somewhat took a comical turn. Now the U.S. authorities actually has in their dossiers the result of a background investigation on the person of Vice President Noli de Castro. When alledegly asked by a U.S. agent about the trade imbalance between the Philippines and the U.S., he reportedly answered: "We're your Number One ally, and our President is your Number One fan [yet other countries seem to be] getting more." This "unlikely" response by de Castro apparently led the U.S. Embassy in Manila to declare him as highly inept in matters of foreign policy, and probably in all other aspects of governance.

With an oversimplistic answer like that, you could say that we could not really blame the U.S. authorities for giving a thumbs-down to a de Castro leadership in the event of a resignation or overthrow of the GMA administration but I think, something in all this make it highly unfair to the person of our Vice-President, where this report might just shoot down his chances on the presidency (while he already seem to have a lock on it by next presidential election; being ever more popular than any other political figure we know nowadays).

One interview does not make a man. We do not know him that much while we know him casually as a highly personable person with an ultra-high television charisma. VP Noli de Castro may not claim as his strongest point matters on foreign policy but who knows, he might just be the best "dometic policy" president that we might ever have. Remember, history does not as much remember a good leader for his relations with other countries but so much of what a good leader has done to his fellowmen (Like Manuel L. Quezon and Ramon Magsaysay). It is of rare occassion where a statesman is mostly remembered for his views on foreign policy (Like Margareth Thatcher and Richard Nixon). Good leaders are often revered for the deeds that they have done to their nation.

Intelligence is certainly a must for anyone desiring to becoming the next leader of our nation but I believe, it is the genuine interest to help alleviate the suffering of the people that should be prime among all motives. They say a good intention is not enough, but at least it must not be absent at all.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Why Spy?

Apparently, what could be the subject of espionage by Michael Ray Aquino are two reports by a U.S. envoy on the possibility or viability of coup attempts that were being planned against the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, one in the early part of this year and another just about a couple of months before the impeachment controversy had reach it climactic heights. The reports were allegedly prepared by US Charge d'Affaires Joseph Mussomeli in assessment of a palpable wrangling within the Armed Forces of The Philippines, among “a substantial number" of junior officers and generals. Such reports went on in concluding that any coup attempt would be premature for primarily lacking in public support. Of course, it could not entirely be confirmed if those reports were actually the subject of documents that former PNP Senior Superintendent Michael Ray Aquino had “sourced” from FBI files in America.

To think, what could be other reasons or motives why FBI had to have some sensitive files concerning the Philippines. There were initial queries about what could exactly be the content of the so-called FBI files and what could probably be so important about our nation that American authorities had to have certain classified information about it. It makes me wonder. Not like we have some secret nuclear weapon program or a stealthy plan to invade a neighboring country, like in the case of Iran or Iraq. I do not think also that we hide some Weapons of Mass Destruction concealed somewhere beneath our Philippine soil.

And so the FBI files must contain none other subject than that “research” or “assessment” by the U.S. Embassy on the possibility of coup plots being launched against the GMA administration. If you asked me, any person worth his while would not have to extract any FBI information storage just to know that some uprising is being cooked within the military organization, with the confluence of the opposition politicians. These things are always up in the air and we always can smell it like dirty fumes from a decrepit factory nearby. Mostly, we do not have to be a super-secret agent in order to know these things?

And so what I mean, Michael Ray Aquino may have just unduly harmed himself by improperly acquiring information that he would have gotten just easily using internal sources, without violating any U.S. laws. I suspect that he was just given the Elliot Ness treatment, being caught red-handed with an innocuous wrongdoing, when he could not be prosecuted successfully with a more serious one. Let us remember that he had fled the Philippines years ago in order to escape murder charges leveled against him in connection with the murder of publicist Bubby Dacer and his driver in 2000. If he can’t be taken out by the murder indictment, he will fall by this espionage infringement.

All the while, although it won’t surprise us anymore why the U.S. Embassy would tinker its hands into our political affairs (where it seems to me that they have to dip their hands into every nation’s affairs), it still amazes me how they could sum up so very detailed information contained in the two reports by Mussomeli, generally pointing out to a certain group of “young officers and generals” as the progenitor of the planned coup attempts, like they knew their names with certainty, and just wouldn’t admit to it for evident reasons. Could the U.S. Embassy been in contact with these military people? Is Mussomeli been involved in this more than what is necessary? This present controversy on spying tells us something about the extent of meddling the U.S. had on our affairs; that perhaps, the U.S. government is trying to wield its influence over our politics more than what is necessary and more than what we ever had thought before.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

MIG AYESA: Almost A Rockstar

MIG AYESA is finally aboard the ROCKSTAR.INXS finale which will be staged on Wednesday next week. Asked if how he had grown in the past weeks,he said without blinking that he is just all too happy to be part of the show. Now, that's humility unparalleled. No wonder he is of Filipino lineage.

This sort of "good guy image" has certainly earned Migs a lot of votes across the Pacific basin but an INXS member (it must have been Gary Beers) had cautioned him that this overly sweet persona may do him more harm than good. He was told that he needs to have some kind of a "dark side" because as seen popularly, rockers are a little bit mean--meaning Migs must have some sort of an "attitude".

And so Mig was made to sing Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black", perhaps to check out if he has that "darker self". If you asked me, the song may have the word "black" on it but it's still difficult to hide his true self, where we all still know that he is such a nice guy. Could INXS take an overly nice guy as Michael Hutchence's replacement in the band? Well, why not? As what Mig had said, the audience vote (he was never in the bottom three except this week) proves something-- that he should be in the band.

And now there are only three surviving rockers going into next week's finale---Marty, J.D. and of course the ever popular Mig Ayesa. having heard how these three men howled and crooned on the stage, it would be all too difficult to make predictions. They all have performed so extraordinarily well lately that according to Kirk Pengily "it seems unfair for us to make a decision".

Of course my heart goes to Mig being our kababayan. If he were not rooted here, I might have seen him more of a pop star and not as a rocker although his vocal range is wide enough that he can resurrect any INXS song with ultimate ease. But as the INXS members noted in the interviews, he lacks that "rocker attitude". Not that he has an attitude problem but what they could possibly mean is that, a proper rocker must have some sort of an "attitude", a darker side, whatever that means. But Migs is surely popular with the girls and if he ever wins this contest, he could guarantee good sales for any future INXS record.

Now Marty seems to be most talented among the three and he had proven this when he sang an original composition of his titled "Trees", and Dave Navarro instantly blurted "That's a hit song right there". The problem with Marty is that his voice and look is more inclined towards the American side of rockdom, like he can be mistaken for a lead vocalist of any grunge band anytime. If he fronts INXS, it could entirely change INXS' image, like suddenly they have become an American grunge band and not the classic Aussie band that they have always been known for. One thing, Tim Farriss thought he was very controlling. Marty said he just wanted to take the band towards another level. These "brave" words from Marty may have trespassed some INXS ego. Who the hell is this guy telling us what to do? And that would be his own undoing. But on the one hand, he may just be exactly the guy that INXS is looking for---someone that is very talented and with a very strong personality; one that can get his own way almost always.

Now comes J.D. He almost matched the songwriting skill of Marty with his original composition "Pretty Vegas" and which was even voted as the one song that the audience wanted to hear as an encore. J.D. got that perfect rocker's voice and he seems to also have that rocker personality although sometimes he looked like a boy band member---with his good looks and overly-cropped hair. And his strongest point is that his voice has a very strong resemblance to that of Michael Hutchence, rendering the same vocal inflections and emotional emphasis. In fact, when he sang "By My Side" as an encore in today's episode, he sang it so good that I thought Michael Hutchence suddenly came back from the grave. When I close my eyes and hear J.D. without looking at him (with his boyish look), I thought I was hearing the same INXS of old. Would INXS settle for the one rocker that could clone Michael Hutchence voice? Or do they want something new and refreshing? It is very hard to tell at this time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Where Have They Gone, Those Dragonflies?

When June came, rain started to pour over the arid soil of Zamboanga City that one could see puddles of rainwater littering the ground. The street just in front of our house was soaked in inches-deep floodwater that rose to my ankles whenever I waddle through it. Children playing nearby would almost always sully their arms and feet with mud and their clothes would surely get wet as they couldn’t resist disturbing the rainwater that had finally conquered the once dry surroundings.

The back of our house had suddenly become swampy too that I had suggested to my wife Evelyn that we do something about it. The evening news had made me extremely wary of spreading diseases brought about by insects trapped in stagnant waters like dengue or malaria. And so, we had to cover the swampy backyard with truckloads of filling materials and soon it was elevated enough that the water flooding all over it had virtually vanished.

In the weeks after, me and the kids would trooped to the now waterless backyard and attempted to weed out unwanted vegetations permeating there--those slinky grasses that could grow to almost the height of a regular adult. I had remembered that when I was a kid, I used to venture into these sorts of swampy areas where the bushes and vegetations were so robust and wild that one could get lost into it when not being too careful. In those kinds of places, I and a number of kids would go hunting for dragonflies and butterflies as if they were profitable commodities. We capture and trapped them, and then we just put them into jars until they wither and die or be able to flee from captivity. It was such a virtually a pointless activity (capturing dragonflies) but for kids like we were then, it was especially pleasurable. Maybe in kids, the primal nature of man as a hunter is more prevalent than we had ever thought before.

In our backyard, I was wondering why despite the wild growth of the grasses and other vegetations in the ground, I had not seen a single dragonfly gyrating through the air and hopping from foliage to foliage. The butterflies were also missing from my view. I wonder where they had gone. I had thought to myself that in my childhood days, dragonflies of variant colors and sizes would always enchant my eyes to no end and I would go after them, slowly and gently like a well-trained hunter, in order that they may not be alerted and flee unduly. Where have all those dragonflies gone? Why aren’t those yellow butterflies coming to visit the blooming bougainvilleas? I had these questions in my mind and had many theories about the sudden infrequency of these flying wonders in our urban jungles. Had urban decay and pollution shooed them away towards the faraway hinterlands? Or do dire weather changes push them closer towards extinction? Maybe, global warming is now finally showing its deadly pangs, and it becomes now the main culprit in the disappearance of specie like those of dragonflies and butterflies.

And then, last Saturday rain poured so hard in our city---much harder than ever before---that the floodwaters rose to extraordinary levels. There was a point there that I had thought rainwater would soon enter our living room. But luckily the rain stopped before everything got worst. The day after, I was wondering so much if the backyard would be turned again into a swampy place due to the extraordinary amount of rainfall the day before. I finally walked towards the backyard and check it out for myself. There was indeed some flooding but my fear of the backyard becoming swampy again was calmed immediately. The waters were so minimal. I walked slowly towards the center of the backyard and smelled the soil while it was still very early in the morning and the sun was still soft and radiant from the horizon. And lo and behold, I almost could not believe my eyes when I saw one huge red dragonfly just flew above my shoulder and then towards a wild growth of plants in the corner of the wall surrounding our backyard. I turned towards another direction and I saw many other dragonflies busily gyrating around like they were prisoners who had suddenly been allowed freedom and they were extremely happy for that. My heart was aglow and sweet memories of childhood came rushing all over again. And nearby, I saw a yellow butterfly slowly descending upon the leaves of an infantile Palmera and I couldn’t help but become aware of the fact that it was the first butterfly that I have ever seen in quite a long, long time.

Suddenly, like in a miracle, the dragonflies have come back again.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Governments Should Be Like Airline Companies

It was quite sad to see the impeachment complaint reeling down the drain, like a washed up memento of everything that we need to fight for. I was really hoping that the truth could be given even just a moment’s chance to be tested by the fire, like in a full-blown impeachment proceeding against the President, irregardless if the President may eventually be exonerated or not---at least, in that manner, Congress had not resorted to such numbing insensitivity to the public’s cry for a thorough investigation of the alleged election anomalies believed to have been committed by her. Things like these ain’t suppose to get away so easily, otherwise we can half-expect that every election we will have from now on would most probably be rigged. And we have the present Congress to blame for that.

I can recall now, as we examine the sad state of our politics, an episode of Ally Mcbeal that was shown about five to six years ago. It was too long ago but because that episode was so interesting, I have always recounted the story to some of my friends from law school every now and then. In this particular episode, the team of Ally Mcbeal was suing for damages in behalf of nearly two hundred plane crash victim—the plaintiff’s side. As the case went on, the plaintiff’s side was very disheartened to learn that the investigators and aviation experts that was tasked to examine the crash site had found no single evidence whatsoever of negligence on the part of the airline company. In suing for damages in cases like airline accident, it becomes necessary that the plaintiff should prove that the airline company or its employees had committed some form of negligence or breach of care that is necessary for such sensitive industry. When negligence is not proven, damages or full compensation may not be had.

In this case within the TV episode mentioned above, the court could not seem to pinpoint to any wrongdoing on the side of the airline company and like one counsel for the airline company there said, “The plane just went down for no apparent cause”. No pilot error. No maintenance lapses. No engine trouble. No bomb explosions. Nothing. Nada.

And so when the day of reckoning came, the Ally Mcbeal team was not so encouraged by their chances of winning the case while the defendants were already almost celebratory. But then the unexpected happened when the judge finally handed down a judgment in favor of the Ally Mcbeal team, this despite that the investigation did not find any evidence of negligence on the part of the airline company. In the reading of the judgment, the court decided that while it is true that the plaintiff side was not able to prove negligence on the part of the airline company, still the airplane crash victims should be paid damages and their families fully compensated, for it had opined rather strongly that the court does not believe that airliners could just go down in flames without any reason. There must be a cause and this cause, the airline company should be held responsible for. The decision went on to say that the award of damages should give notice to all airline companies that from now on, they should do everything possible in this world to make sure that the safety of passengers are guaranteed by all means. They must do everything, anything lesser is not acceptable. They may have to train their pilots every month if it need be or do maintenance work more often than what is usual. They may have to discard their twenty-year old planes and buy new state-of-the-art aircrafts. They have to do everything to keep danger almost to a nil, if that is possible. Whenever an airliner goes down in flames and lives are lost, airline companies should always recompense the victims. No ifs and no buts.

Now here comes the analogy to the state of our nation. Governments should be like airline companies. The people it serves should not be force to accept malefactors and wrongdoings in the government by masking the truth or manipulating a political exercise. By all means, governments should remain morally intact in order that it becomes a primal force in urging the upswing of a nation, both economically and socially. Any taint in the face of the government that presently serves us should be dealt with accordingly, either by proving the accusations wrong or by just letting the public know the real score. So what’s the real score? The administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has so many things to explain and yet it had chosen to hide rather than be forward and answer every doubt cast upon its name. The mishandling of the truth may serve as a bad precedence in the future where a people becomes deserving of a tainted government and governments from now on may not care anymore to be morally fit because after all, an unfit government had been allowed to escape unscathed once before. This “act of Congress” will go down badly in the annals of our political history.

Like an airline company, governments should exert every effort possible in order that no airline crashes happen. Meaning to say, it should be ideal for a developing republic like us that our governments should not wallow into any dirt, like having its hand into Jueteng money because bribery is the one singular crime that had brought this nation down from its gloried past. And if talks of election rigging are so prevalent and pestering, the talks should not be allowed to die down. The truth must be uncovered. The GMA administration had preferred to be evasive, as if admitting something and yet not being ready to pay for it. In that sense, it had contented itself into becoming a government masked in doubt and disrepute rather than be a moral and upright one.

The Filipino people deserve a government that is moral and exemplary. But as of now, we will keep on looking for that, for we haven’t got it yet.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Who Can Handle The Truth?

An umbrella organization called Bukluran Para sa Katotohanan now becomes a delta for “all the voices in the wilderness”, calling for the TRUTH to arise from this bedlam of political arm-wrestling and elbowing. I have always wanted the TRUTH to come out. When everything around us becomes a lie, there is only the TRUTH that we can lean upon. And so, through the initial persuasion of MLQ3, I now support this following declaration:

Statement of Unity
Bukluran Para sa Katotohanan

We come from all walks of life, from different political, cultural, and economic persuasions, different points of view. But in diversity, we find a cause for unity. That cause for unity is our common objective to secure the truth.

We all seek the truth. We want the truth to come out. And yet every means for seeking the truth has been frustrated; every avenue for arriving at the truth has been blocked; and every opportunity to find the truth is being closed.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s response to our call for the truth has been to suppress evidence, hide her accomplices, engage in a grand cover-up, sow fear, foment distrust and use every instrument at her disposal to encourage division among our people.

We will not be divided in these critical times.

We say with one voice, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo must go. For the good of the country, she must go. For the sake of our nation’s future, she must go. For the preservation of hope as a motive force in our national life, she must go.

We are united by the belief that this crisis must be resolved in a manner that is peaceful and democratic. Without the truth, there cannot be peace; without the truth, there is no genuine democracy. The truth must set our nation free.

Unite for the truth. Demand the truth. Defend the truth.

Kami ay ang Bukluran Para sa Katotohanan.
Action for Economic Reforms
AKBAYAN Citizen’s Action Party
Ateneo Concerned Faculty and Youth
Bangon, Pilipinas
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)
Be Not Afraid
Black & White Movement
Citizens for TRUTH (Transparency, Responsibility, Unity, Trust, Hope)
Citizens for Truth, Resignation, Impeachment, or Ouster (C4T)
Coalition for National Solidarity
Counsels for the Defense of Civil Liberties (CODAL)
De La Salle
FPJP Movement
Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC)
Interfaith Movement for Truth, Justice and Genuine Change (IFM)
Kilusan ng Makabansang Ekonomiya (KME)
Laban ng Masa
Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)
Peoples Assembly for Genuine Alternatives to Social Apathy (PAG-ASA)
Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP)
Union of Muslims for Morality and Truth (UMMAT)
United Opposition (UNO)
Unity for Truth and Justice
UP Diliman Student Council (UPD USC)
White Ribbon Movement
Women March
Youth DARE

Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina’s Wrath Remain Harsh Long After The Storm

An American daily called it “hell in new Orleans”, and by the manner by which we now witness the ultimate devastation and ruin brought forth by the now legendary hurricane, then it might as well be. Hell it is and if it had a fury like a woman scorned, then the woman must come in no other name but “Katrina”.

I was glued the whole time yesterday to the international coverage of the giant storm’s aftermath on cable television and I was hoping I could catch a glimpse (by way of video documentation the actual onslaught of the hurricane) of how strong and ferocious it had been---did the houses sprung up into the air like broken dollhouses. Unfortunately, CNN had no such videos or if they had, they did not replay it anymore. Maybe, they were just too gruesome for comfort.

So I had to see the devastation through the flooded streets and overcrowding, and the misery painted in the faces of those who got stranded, the babies crying while being carried by their sweating mothers and old women drooping like they got the whole world on their shoulders. Apparently, Katrina’s aftermath had become such a colossal logistical crisis where flooding waters and smashed-up streets and bridges had made rescue efforts so darn difficult to carry out. It had also become a gung-ho police problem for the New Orleans authorities as lootings had become so widespread. There were reports of child-rape committed in one of the temporary shelters where overcrowding had rendered the situation there maddening and hellish. Some thugs have even controlled some areas of the locality that at one point, helicopters trying to deliver food and water encountered gunfires from what was reported to be random snipers. This could be what anarchy in America looks like---if it is not already.

As of this morning, President George W. Bush was speaking to reporters about how the rescue operations would entail huge amount of federal funds while his father, former President George Bush and former President Bill Clinton looked on at the wayside. Apparently, the White House was still in the stage of sourcing funds for the much-needed rescue operations and acted as if nothing was really urgent happening over there in New Orleans. Some dailies have reported how it took quite a while for the White House to get notice that there are actually thousands and thousands of hurricane victims being stranded in temporary shelters throughout New Orleans, Houston and San Antonio, without food, water and medical help in sight. People were actually dying there and President Bush was still “looking up for funds”. This seeming lack of action and urgency in Katrina’s aftermath is so unlikely of the American authorities and I couldn’t believe that the mayhem and devastation I was seeing on television was actually happening in America, the most progressive state in the world, and not in Jamaica or Somalia.

Where were the Chinooks and hummers that the U.S. Government used to flaunt all over the world? It seems to me that every modern equipment, materiel and gadgets that there is to have, the U.S. military has it. They are even giving them like peanuts to countries like the Philippines for anti-terrorism purposes, among other reasons. But now that their country needs it most, these useful equipments are nowhere to be seen. Perhaps, they were all already sent overseas, in Iraq and Afghanistan among other places, and America has already none of them in their homeland. Now tell me if this is such "a responsible conduct".

What we see here perhaps is a symptom of President Bush’s overly outward sense of priority where White House had become so foreign-centered that whenever problems arises in their own country of the magnitude of Katrina, it becomes completely inutile in handling it, becoming overly-used already outside actions.

And one thought does not seem to escape my mind. Why is it that there is a very patent delay and laxity in responding to the devastation in New Orleans? I have noticed that those who were stranded and lay helpless in the streets of New Orleans were mostly black Americans. Would help had come much faster if those who lay homeless were mostly whites and not colored ones?

I could not believe my eyes that the most powerful country in the whole world struggles so pitifully in handling a giant storm’s wrath when they all have the much-needed resources in their hand. And I wish I am wrong but in this very modern age, America is still showing some hang-ups about its racist past, where there still remains alienation and prejudice against the colored people, and marginalization of those who are in the minority.

What was devastated was “black America”. And help had not come so soon. And it makes me wonder.