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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Every journey has to start from somewhere. This could have began like many mornings at Figaro’s along Emerald Avenue. I’m at my favorite spot, by the window, right under the air conditioner, sipping my latte and eating a sandwich. Every morning, 32 oz of latte. Five years back, there was hardly any pedestrian walking at six thirty in the morning. I’d meet my friends for breakfast here. There were likewise countless morning meetings held here. The office after all was just across the street. Those were good days. Today, it is constantly alive. People come off nightshift and people check in for the morning. Strange how home doesn't feel like home anymore.

I glanced on the display before me. Safari pointed to Curfew imposed by Government, regarding Red Cross.

I mumbled to no one, “Here we go again.” Then a sip of Latte.

People have been kidnapped down south before. Still, the government wouldn’t crush these terrorists or at least mount an unrelenting campaign against them. Yes, I understand that there is an economic component associated with this problem. That poverty plays a role but indecision is the bigger problem. They kidnap, we send in troops. Sometimes people die. And things are forgotten, buried under the next news cycle.

“Damn.”

The past few days has been this unknown, Chip Tsao. So is the guy a school yard bully and does it hit a raw nerve? Chips’ publisher has apologized, sort of. Should we close the book on racial slur? Of course the government is onion skinned, and over the top when it shouldn’t: HK journalist on RP immigration blacklist. Another Claire Danes, I thought bitterly.

Seriously, should we be Outraged?

Ricky Carandang wrote:

And now we’re all outraged when some wise ass in Hong Kong claims that Spratlys are theirs? What the fuck did you expect? Everything we’ve done these past few years has served to undermine our claim to the Spratlys. Maybe not legally, but certainly politically. So isn’t this guy just calling it like he sees it? And now we’re going to get ourselves into a huff and I can bet you some politician is going to write the HK Magazine to demand a retraction and/or an apology. And I can bet you some other politician is going to make noise about filing a formal protest.

We are so easily offended by the most casual insult towards our country by outsiders and yet we cultivate a blind indifference towards the daily rape of our country by our own citizens. There’s nothing wrong about being a maid in Hong Kong. Its honest and dignified work. What’s sad is that the only reason they have to be there is because they can’t find decent well paying work here at home. And who’s fault is that? Is it the same people who are so angry about this latest slur to our dignity?

Its much easier to pretend to be a nationalist then it is to actually be one.

I agree.

Scrolling down Google Reader, I saw @mlq3’s post on Problematic “Nicole” which was still unread. So I clicked on it. On Nicole, he wrote:
From the start and to the bitter end, the whole case has revealed to us, much more about ourselves, individually and collectively, than perhaps we’re prepared to accept.”

Indeed.

I glanced at the onboard clock and it was nearly 8 o'clock and the remains of my sandwich and half empty latte sat on the table. Time for the Explainer?



Interesting conversation on Darwin, right?

I click back to Google Reader and browse through The Warrior Lawyer's Will Murder Raps Against Senator Lacson, stick? Perhaps, I'm turning into a cynic to think, that all this is just drama.

Then I see Smoke who says, "we topped eh". It reminds me of benign0's post, "Earth Hour is bullshit." Both reminded me of Batman & Son. In chapter two of that book by Grant Morrison, Jezebel Jet says to Bruce Wayne, "It's easy to wear a t-shirt that says, 'Make poverty History', until it fades in the wash" Bruce Wayne responds "I'm all for it. And while we're at it, let's make wealth compulsory. It would solve so many of the world's problems if everyone were a millionaire, don't you think?"

Same banana, don't you think?

Earth Hour, I joined but let's all do our bit for Planet Earth: be more energy efficient. Also, let's get cleaner technology out the door and support it! That's one bit we can do for tomorrow.

On the table were the remains of breakfast. That meant, time to go. Makati was next on my list to do. I packed my things and started to walk. MRT time. I'd be lying if I said that MRT is my favorite means of transportation. I echo Arbet's most apt description of the whole MRT experience:
Pero sa totoo lang, walang tatalo sa mga babae pagdating sa singitan. Pagdating sa MRT, ang mga babae nagiging Amasona. Pramis.

Tulad nung nangyari kahapon. Madalas akong naka iPod pag nasa MRT kasi naiirita ako sa nakakairitang paalala na palagi mo na lang maririnig sa mga istasyon ng MRT. Wala namang sumusunod. Tulad ng “huwag umapak sa dilaw na lines.” Goodluck. Ako lang yata ang di umaapak sa dilaw na lines eh.

Anyway, so kahapon maswerte ako at nakapwesto agad ako sa platform, pero syempre di ako nakatapak sa dilaw na lines. Makakapasok agad ako ng tren, sabi ko sa sarili. Pero ilang segundo lang, may nakatayo nang babae sa harap ko. (doh)

Isang example pa lang yan. Dapat yata magsuot ako ng sumbrero na may video camera, para marecord ko lahat ng mga pagsingit na ginagawa ng mga babae sa MRT. Hay naku, dapat wala nang segregation scheme kung ganyan din lang naman mangyayari.

Ayala station and as I walk out of the train, phone in hand, I start to send out a text message. Driver responds that he is waiting for me as scheduled by Glorietta 4. Brisk walking, I see a familiar black Expedition, heavily tinted. I climbed onboard and at the backseat, my change of clothing is there, all pressed.

Transformation time.

I exchanged my plain clothes for a deep-blue necktie and my favorite red, long sleeved shirt. Fifteen minutes later, I sat at Makati Shangri-la's lobby lounge. I was always early for a meeting.

Of course, I'm not doomed to leisure as Sparks is. Not when I'm reading Rochelle's Bloggers Night Out by Playboy Philippines then Atheista's The Twelve Best Pinoy Bands of All Time According to S Magazine before I came across @momblogger advertising her daughter's new enterprise. We need more enterpreneurs, imho even as I'm reading How a Modern Depression Might Look -- If the U.S. Gets There.

I put the machine to sleep. Meeting time.

This is how it used to go down, after all the preliminary talk is set aside. I give my song and dance. Numbers are solid. I know it by heart. The guy sitting across me is 30 years my senior and in a barong tagalog (formal Filipino suit). I never meet people my age.

There were always two lines of script that they follow. If the guy sitting across me is a fellow contractor, he'd lament at how much for the boys commission needs to get out. He'll give you a sob story about how he funds this trip to some Gentlemen's club for the boys. It's the same old story you hear everyday that common people lament and suspect but there is never any proof. The second line is if it is some official of the government that is right in front of me. His speech starts off like "You need to give a more formal presentation and send in some paper work. Make sure it is received at the office. Paper work matters so when we deliberate, we can back it up with paper work." This is followed most certainly by, "Yes, we need to have your gear, but you know how it is. We need funding. Can you get Cong to finance this equipment purchase? "

In other words, what strings can you pull? Real or not, that's up to you to decide. Of course that is a different world.

Tony writes about another side of the Philippines:
What do the Alabang, Paranaque and Quezon City incidents, the Kuratong Baleleng rubout, the suspicious slays of crusading journalists and the murders of nearly a thousand activists have in common?
They are all arguably extrajudicial or extralegal killings — deliberate murders of individuals by elements or agents of the state, with approval or sanction by superiors, without due process or outside of the law, and most of them are politically-motivated.

So, is the Philippines, ‘poster child of impunity’?

The drive back Greenhills would rarely take a long time. The sight of course is typical. There are bridges in Manila where people live in shanty houses at top a stagnant creak or river. The urban poor, with their feces, their garbage and their food mixing. The sight of children, half naked and playing outside can be heart wrenching. We're used to it, right?

Still, sometimes, don't you wish it could make you sick in the stomach?

Have you ever seen Manila high above and at night? Have you taken the time to admire the points of light that look like jewels sparkling in the dark? I do that at night watching cars zip past my office window. Even at midnight you could hear them zoom at EDSA. Between midnight and six o' clock in the morning it takes about fifteen minutes from Quezon City to Makati. That's about an hour, to two hours, on a regular rush hour day.

At night, Manila hides all the grime and dirt the city has. Everything is the stuff of legend and myth. There are no shanty town eyesores. There is no hodgepodge architecture. There is no sense of corruption. There are no mindless trivialities about the most minute aspect of daily life. There are no gun carrying husbands shooting their tired, abused wives nor of children digging in the dump, eating fast food leftovers. Don't you sometimes wish we were fighting Magiks and Demons, Monsters and Aliens, psychopaths and megalomanic dictators just to keep life interesting?

Then there was this time, I remember nurturing a half empty glass of white wine as I looked out an RCBC tower looking out the city. It was one of those social events that I used to go to. OK, more like required to go. It was business and I hated it because, I'd be the youngest person in the room and everyone was a good 40 years my senior. So there I was thinking how breathtaking the city was. I knew no matter where I was in the world that this was my home town.

I think about the the Arithmetic Problem of Partylist and how in a comment to my post, "The Folly of Good Intensions," DJB had ask me to read John Rawls' A Theory of Justice:
the two principles that would be reached through an agreement in an original position of fairness and equality are 1) each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others and 2) social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both a) reasonably expected to be to everyone's advantage; and b) attached to positions and offices open to all

How I wish that those who want to craft a New Constitution or those who would seek to amend the current one would put Rawls' idea on their head as they write. Maybe they'll design and paint the future brighter. A man can dream, can't he?

That's how all this started, right? Someone dreamed.

About a year ago, Nick sent this email. "We cordially invite you to contribute for Filipino Voices." Of course, Nick's invite wasn't exactly constructed that way. Nick's not that formal. That was the gist of invite. No one says "no" when something like that comes along.

A collaborative, political blog was an experiment. The people I've met over the past year have all been awesome and no words are enough to describe the phenomenal effort put out by Nick, by our tech team and our contributors to get FilipinoVoices online. In a larger sense, Filipino Voices is a more than an idea to raise discussion to a higher level. It is more than a collaboration of myriad opinion and diverse thinking. It is more than a community, it should grow beyond crowdsourcing and "Ask Not What Your Community Can Do For You — Ask What You Can Do For Your Community." Filipino Voices is an ideal that should surpass us all.

[April 1st is Filipino Voices' 1st year. Happy 1st Anniversary to my fellow contributors, to our tech crew, our editors, to Nick. Here's to many more years! This post was first published on Filipino Voices.]

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