Right of Suffrage, a Passage!

This is an election-related story  received in the e-mail. Am writing this from the way my daughter related it to me. Seems an apt story to tell pending the national May 10 election.

A politician was finally called by St. Peter, the gates keeper of the heavenly kingdom.  The aged saint explained that even in the next life, there is a right to choose where one wants to go.  One is allowed to exercise his free will and even his right of suffrage. And before one makes his choice, he is allowed to view his choice.

Sounds fair said the relentless politician who had made quite a lot of choices in his earthly life.

Then I shall let you spend a day in hell said the cranky saint.

I would never choose that countered the politician.

We’ll see said the saint.

And they entered a most glorious golf course where familiar faces welcomed him with wide grins. His departed friends had been showing him how to make a tee.  And even the evil head had expensive golf clubs swinging gracefully. When he was about to poise his self to his favorite stance, the ragged saint called him and said it is time for him to view heaven.

The two entered a serene, immaculately white garden where strangers in ragged but clean robes greeted him with such peaceful smiles.  And the surroundings was so quiet he was totally bored before he heard the saint  prodding him it is time to make a choice.

The politician was bullish and prompted the saint to send him to hell.  I never thought I would ever say that but it’s where I want to go.

As you wish said St. Peter. And the politician found himself in a fiery furnace.

This ain’t hell he shouted.

This is it! said the devil.

But the other day I saw a golf course! he complained.

Oh, but the other day we were campaigning.  Today you voted!

Excessive Arrogance ’09

(Was writing this in December just before all the season’s activities commenced.  Am not up to editing anything.  Here’s a reflection about how things were at that moment.)

Advent draws to a close. It’s almost Christmas, the season of joy and giving.  I wonder how many had actually undergone some soul searching.  Advent is supposed to be a month long period of waiting.  During that time, one has to prepare oneself for the coming of the Messiah.   But the preparation for the merriment of Christmas, such as shopping for gifts, detailing recipes for the noche buena feast, caroling and fund raising, loud parties and whatever gimmick there is for revelry, had obscured the importance of musing about the birth of the Child who would be our Savior.

The Karaoke sound system kicked off to a blast.  That was from the home of the excessively wealthy government contractor, or so I heard.  The party had been huge.  The voices and the singing, the laughter and the cheers reverberated through the houses down the block.  Ironically, down the block was the makeshift camp of the street children begging for plastic wares.  The clothes they wore were torn and filthy.  And the children were counting used water bottles to fill the sack.  Had they been born otherwise, they could have been counting chocolate candy bars to fill in a Christmas sock.

Poverty is as near as the next door.  In fact, it is knocking on my door.  Unless I will myself to turn callous, there is no escaping that face of a weather-beaten child asking for food.  My platter is not filled but I had enough to share for one or two.  I wonder now if the pompous display of wealth, as in a thousand glittering lights in a single house, could have accomodated a hundred mouths more.  The banquet must have overflowed with tasty dishes. But that is the way of the world.  The rich accumulates everything for themselves and leaves nada to the deprived.  Arrogance? Excessive! Sigh!

Dire Foreboding

The signs are in the air.  A power blackout surprised every Mang Tomas, Mang Juan, at Aling Nena all over Luzon yesterday afternoon..  The initial thought that comes to mind is that the cost of electricity will increase again.  But with the impending election going on its first automation, one can’t help but muse about power sabotage.  Too bad.

But the power was restored just in time for the people to tune in and listen to the very first gutter talk in the senate.  One quip went like this:

Mar Roxas:  I have no insertion whatsoever!

Nene Pimentel: Now that you are married, maybe there is some insertion there.

Mar Roxas:  I demand that that comment be removed from the records.  It is a direct affront to my wife.

Nene Pimentel: I remove immediately.

That elicited laughter from the floor.  I wonder what is funny?

I had been a voter for Nene Pimental.  What could have gone wrong with him?  I remember Raul Manglapus making a snide remark about women who gets raped in the Middle East and that goes something like If you can’t help it, just lie back and enjoy it!

What is with aged Filipino politicians?  Is their foul language a by-product of their failure to be on top?  But Jovito Salonga had remained sane and decent till his old age.  Or it is simply character that remains in the end.

Whatever is going on with the politicos, it is not healthy to allow the youth to hear. Too nasty a precedent.  Too grim a tale to tell.  A dire foreboding about where this country is heading to?  Pray not.

The Lost Cross

Tish hastened me one morning to bring her to K n’ L.  I asked her Where is that? thinking it was some airline agency or a hamburger stand probably.  She responded with I really don’t know but it’s along CPGarcia Avenue, it’s where we’re going to hold our rummage sale. I answered Okay, I know where that is but I have not seen any K n’ L establishment there. Tish did not say anything anymore, too busy seeking out the appropriate clothes she would share for their org fund raising activity.

Half an hour later, we were cruising the long avenue and Tish was asking for instructions from an org mate on the cellphone.  Then she asked me to stop beside a small side street.  She said that she either has to walk or take a pedicab to get to K n’ L.  I was alarmed because as far as I was concerned, we were at the entrance of a squatter’s area. Oooops, I said, I will go with you. But there was no space to park in the busy road.  And the car after me was honking like crazy. Tish waved a hurried Bye. And I had to let go.

At lunchtime, Tish texted to tell me to come fetch her at the university.  She was so hungry.  In between bites of her one piece chicken meal at Jollibee fastfood, she related to me that K n’ L stands for Krus na Ligaw, literally translates Lost Cross.  But the street also looks like a cross and it is lost from the general commuters because it ain’t passable.  The people fill the street.  And that is where they laid their boxes of branded shirts and pants.  All of them hoped they could generate a good sum. The clothing cost a thousand and up each, and most of them were slightly worn. But alas, the buyers tossed the shirts and dresses asking which one is priced at ten pesos. What? They were hoping they could sell one at three hundred!  Sadly, that was not to be.  Their treasured clothes were given up for five or ten pesos only.

Tish sighed after her meal They were so poor, ma!

The Finding of the Christ Child in the Temple

Today,  the third Sunday of January, we celebrate the feast of the Santo Nino or the Child Jesus.  I believe the Philippines is the only country granted by the Holy See to commemorate the Finding of the Christ Child in the temple.  And we celebrate it complete with the traditional native festivites like street dancing.  But the adoration is embedded in the shouts of Pit Senor!

What is in the Child Jesus that at least three tribes in the Visayas gear up their pagan costumes and converge in the streets to hail the Santo Nino?

There seems to be many answers depending on the orientation of one’s devotion.  Many remain loyal to that 16th century Spanish colonial promise that the image of the Little Boy Jesus will bring peace and prosperity to the devotee.  But of course now, we know that the Santo Nino is the boy left behind in Jerusalem and was found conversing with the learned.  When queried by His Mother Mary, the boy Jesus simply said that He must be His Father’s will. The Boy went home with His parents and advanced in years.

A Child is born to us, a Son is given to us.

God had literally dwelt in our midst. What a wonderful blessing for man! We have a picture of that Boy, our God, just like us! A constant reminder that we must be like little children again, simple, candid and unassuming in life. Then God would want us to go to Him.

Solar Eclipse 2010

A solar eclipse will take place this afternoon, around 4 to 6 pm.  That means the moon will pass between the earth and the sun.  And the sun will be obscured from our vision partially, I think.

That brings me to looking up to the dear heavens as I usually do.  I am surprised to see cumulu-nimbus clouds covering my usual blue skies.  And the thick dark cotton clouds seem to foreshadow a dire foreboding. Or probably it is all in my mind. And why so?  Well the Port-au-Prince 7.0 magnitude quake images gave me the goosebumps. After the deep freeze of the northern hemisphere, the semi-eruption of cone-like Mayon Volcano, the sporadic fires, an earthquake must be first on our prayer list for calamities not to come.  The El Nino is already at hand.  The Marikina River has dried up. One can actually cross the river without getting the feet wet. If that is not a thought, what is?  The heat wave is not amusing at all to endure but better that than an earthquake.

As of this writing, the radio news is broadcasting a semi-moderate  5.0 earthquake  that  just shook Davao in the south.  Another one occurred in the Pacific which is right where our islands are located.  The faults are moving.  And commentaries say natural disasters are acts of God.

If that is so, then God must be angry.

Why?

Well, never before had the face of poverty looked so filthy.  The poor, in ages past, look hungry and deprived.  The poor, in the modern techno world, looks like shit. Even the rats wouldn’t come near the human poor.  It is unsanitary for them to do so.  In high definition contrast, the rich live in unspeakable mansions equipped with push buttons and remote controls.  I am just not sure if the flicker of their eyelashes are also digitally devised.

Man, I think, had gone awry with his purpose in life. Perhaps he was not able to get out of the solar obstruction he had seen before.  The poor had accepted his fate and exists only to put food in his mouth for the day.  Even if the food is scraps from the garbage.  And the rich had continued to bask in royal robes they were lucky enough to be born in  or lucky enough to have achieved, rightfully or not. I still contend the adage that if one has two of everything, the other must belong to someone else.  If you have two houses, the other must be for a homeless street rat probably.  If you have two cars, the other must be an ambulance probably.  What you do not use does not belong to you. So if you have more than enough shirts in your closet, it is probably time to distribute them to the shirtless.  Each one deserves a bit of happiness.  Not only the high and mighty who commands at  the throne, not only the artist who seems to be blinded by the klieg lights, not only the political animal who believes he is the only one who can lead and govern. How  can one be happy of one is hungry? How can one be happy if one is covered with false glory?

That is why God is so angry.  He had given us a heavenly phenomenon for us to enjoy.  But we missed the point.  We abused looking at the eclipse and missed the image.  So, in the solar eclipses of our lives, we are reminded of what we must be.  And that is being a man for others, like that survivor who manually dug his loved one in the rubbles of the quake.

In My Diary 11 January 2010

There’s something poignant about the new year.  Gem passed away last Friday, around 6 or 7 pm, when dusk had finally settled in the cold January night.  Can’t help but think that she was somewhere near because I remember feeling quaint, or eerie, just before receiving the news of her demise.  Jean and I rushed to the hospital to give the family support.  And we discovered how her remains were stashed at the end of the corridor pending settlement of bills. Since it was late  and on the eve of a weekend, the family had to surrender their car registration receipt.  The coroner came to take the body by midnight. And Wilson, Gem’s husband, followed to the morgue.  I brought the 3 children home, tears quietly rolling down their eyes as grief about losing their mom continues to behold their young minds and hearts.

The wake is being held at the St. Paul of the Cross mortuary.  Amazingly, the children had calmly accepted their mother’s fate and received the visitors to pay their last respect. Elaine, Bam, and Gwen- too young yet for such a tremendous loss. But God has His reason.

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