Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A man who fought and conquered

(POSTHUMOUS TRANSCRIPT- Rolando de la Cruz was the only true maverick president of Adamson University Student Government who took his battle up the mountains of armed revolution, and was killed in an encounter with military officers. To his last breath, he only wanted to serve the people. I was coming in on my first day as a freshman when I saw Rolando's fragile body being dragged by SWAT officers ordered by the university administrators to silence him. In vain.)

That someone so young and with a bright future ahead of him would offer his life instead for the noble and sometimes thankless cause of serving the people, Rolando de la Cruz deserves our utmost respect.

He was and will always be the man ahead of his generation in seeing the need to struggle, and to lead the studentry and later on the greater masses when he left the university. To this day, the evils he fought against remain, but so do the ideals and visions he steadfastly held on to to slay those evils. It was no lost cause.

Through him, we gathered more strength and with him, victory is at hand.

Those who choose not to see will always fail in their every step, and a fear they will never conquer stays with them. While we go on emboldened by a united courage to change the world. Because we can. And the likes of Rolando dela Cruz and a thousand others who offered their lives will always be there to show us the way.

Ka Roland lives on every time we shout in protest, guard our rights, and exercise our freedom and humanity for the greater good.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ominous sky

WHEN it comes to politics, the government PR machine resonates with the conclusion that the Filipinos are increasingly numbed, disillusioned, cynical, fatigued. And its call: Leave the government to politicians. Its prognosis may be partly correct, but its prescription is entirely self-serving and wrong.

As it becomes increasingly difficult to discern our state of affairs, it makes more sense to unravel some of the myths that are meant desperately to perpetuate the lie of that sitting pretender to the throne, and further confuse and polarize the Filipinos, especially during the elections in May.

1. But first, the reality: We remain a democracy…for now. We have to fight to keep it alive; otherwise, we will wake up one day to find our hard-earned freedom taken away from us. All it takes for evil to succeed is that we do nothing.

2. All it takes for evil to succeed is for us to sin by silence when we should protest. Aside from making cowards of us, silence allows evil to toy with us at every possible way.

3. You’ve grown familiar with the style. Test the waters or sneak a poisonous idea past the dead of night, see how the “stupid masses” react, or remain clueless, and then make a law out of the sinister idea or keep it for another day.

Cases in point: railroading of the impeachment rejections, the dance with the Charter-change devil, terrorism by the Executive (e.g., Executive Order 464, and libel suits) and execution (i.e., killing the messengers), ad nauseum.

4. Let us stop seeking that perfect hero or so-called alternative as if we’re stuck in some fairy tale in which we leave it to the hero to rid the castle of the evil witch and her ilk, and dispose of our own roles.

5. Heroism burns inside everyone of us; we are the alternative. It’s democracy. It is we the people versus dictatorship, which would have us powerless. Our votes and our voices to spread the word are the true powers of democracy. Let us use them while we still can.

6. Much as it is ideal, we do not fight the evil liar, thief and murderer by imposing on a saint to run the government. We are the government, and again, this is not a fairy tale. It’s ugly enough that we have allowed evil thus far. Let us start with something easy first: Get rid of the evil. The rest will follow.

7. Let not the spin-doctors to take us for another ride. Just like before Ferdinand Marcos’ time when Philippines ranked second next only to Japan in national wealth, we are surviving despite, not because of, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s so-called prowess in economics. If our country is doing so well, why are we leaving it at the drop of a hat? And what progress have we actually felt lately?

8. When time comes the OFW money remittance balloon that keeps our economy afloat bursts or another Asian currency sting hits our shores, should we be surprised if our so-called leaders call for more belt-tightening measures (as if the 12-percent expanded value-added tax and the newly approved anti-terror bill were not enough to suffocate us) while running away to some Swiss/German bank with the national loot? The illusion ends, the suffering worsens.

9. Accept the obvious: Wannabe-dictators would not like us to believe in vigilance and people power “anymore” although they have reaped a harvest from it. Vigilance, people power and democracy come alive not just every time we secure our votes, raise our voices in protests, or march in the streets with a prayer and a purpose…

10. Vigilance, people power and democracy are alive in a nation proud of its race, freed from hunger, unemployment and landlessness, sheltered and secured, and in a people flourishing with a colorful past, a progressive present and a bright future. Do we really want to lose all that to an iron hand?

Again, our votes and our voices to spread the word are the true powers of democracy. And that’s what the evils of dictatorship want stopped. Only we can decide if we shall let them, especially with the coming election and beyond.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Of ill motives

They want Senate dead. Now they’re running for seats in the same embattled House they wish abolished. What gives? The motives behind the administration’s so-called Team Unity’s latest circus are patently questionable, if not obviously deranged. Only vultures and similar predators seek the stench of death, like the late Kevin Carter’s Pulitzer-worthy picture of an emaciated Sudanese child struggling to get to the feeding center while a fat vulture waits patiently in the background for the child-prey to finally fall. It could smell death and couldn’t wait for a piece of its meat.

No, more like a bomb expert given the task of building a house--a house of glass at that. They can’t wait to blow the house down, like wolves in sheep’s clothing. Or a doctor declaring the patient a cadaver even before it could even complain of what really ills him/her.

What’s apparent is that these Team Unity presidential factotums are running to deliver the last nails on the Senate coffin (wittingly or unwittingly, as rubber-stampers that will themselves become), the Senate being the few remaining parts of our democratic system that run against their and their boss’ dictatorial interests.

Indeed, a vote for any of these personalities is a vote for unity. That is: unity in greed, in further spreading mayhem and madness, and in ensuring that the cheater, thief and murderer pretending to be in control of a crisis-embedded nation stays ‘til kingdom come.

But if they think they can confuse the Filipinos this time, they will be united in their shocked surprise that not a word from any of them or their spin doctors will ever be credible—just like the person they serve.

At least, the opposition candidates despite their faults know they’re running to preserve the role of the Senate in keeping the balance of power, and not to make minced meat out of the Senate as this so-called Team Unity bets are only built for once the election smoke has settled.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Approaching light

A grim prospect is what we learn of the future once we touch base with reality. The biting bitterness of it chokes as it challenges us to at least try to live life one day at a time. To be underwhelmed instead of being caved in by the vastness of such tainted tapestry that lies barefaced before us--the inequality, the injustice, the wanton greed, the tolerability, the complicity, the cynicism of it all.

At 33, Kevin Carter (1961-1994) , took his own life months after winning the Pulitzer Prize for feature photography for a haunting Sudan famine picture. In March 1993 Carter made a trip to southern Sudan with intentions of documenting the local rebel movement. However, upon arriving and witnessing the horror of the famine, Carter began to take photographs of starving victims.

The sound of soft, high-pitched whimpering near the village of Ayod attracted Carter to a young emaciated Sudanese toddler. The girl had stopped to rest while struggling to a feeding center, wherein a seemingly well-fed vulture had landed nearby. He said that he waited about 20 minutes, hoping that the vulture would spread its wings. It didn't. Carter snapped the haunting photograph and chased the vulture away. However, he also came under heavy criticism for just photographing — and not helping — the girl:

"The man adjusting his lens to take just the right frame of her suffering
might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene."

I may not share his detractors' criticism (who, sadly, may have uglier motives for the bile words) but what does not escape is the thin line drawn where our intolerance ends and where our complicity begins. The same photo would later inspire part of a more home-based painting by Joey Velasco. But whether its true message hit the spot, there's no telling. Sometimes, the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Still here...for now

"It's all downhill from there, baby. No more looking back."

Dead was something I sincerely promised I would be once I turned 33. Five months ahead and I would have reneged on that vow. Spoke to friends and some acquaintances, and it turned out I am not alone in this pilgrimage of sorts, a journey towards oblivion. Or to some of them, simply a fear of the unknown, or of being a virtual unknown.

But personally, it was simply embracing the inevitable.

You must be asking why. Try reaching 30 first.