Why have we become like this?

A friend of mine, a young woman of 26, asked me if she could leave before three today to join a protest rally on Katipunan, which if a critical mass is reached, will head to EDSA this evening. I indifferently said yes and told her to just make up for the lost hours next week. I on the other hand had to stay until 6 at the school to work on the evaluation of the French class students. I have papers to check this weekend, a class to prepare for, and cats to take care of. I also have to catch up on my workout as I haven’t gone to the gym for a week now because of work.

The people I see on the street, those my age, show that similar look of resignation, save for some undergraduates in their PE shirts or long tees who seem poised to change history tonight.

For all the rest, this protest on EDSA against the clandestine burying of the remains of Marcos is an annoyance, a cause of this monster traffic. The reason they’re stuck on buses on their way home to Fairview or Bacoor.

This is what has become of us. Work has made us unresponsive to events and happenings that would otherwise scandalize us had we been not rendered docile and satisfied but unthinking by work. I hate this feeling. This is what it means to be an adult; I hate that I am one.

I told myself a long time ago when I was much, much younger, that I would be part of history unfolding. That I will not stay home and let pass that rare opportunity to make a difference in this country. But look at me now. I’m scurrying to go home, cursing the traffic on EDSA just to catch some sleep.

And the saddest thing is that, passing by EDSA shrine, I saw a small crowd, hardly a critical mass enough to send the message that the people are indignant. There were several groups taking selfies while a member is holding a placard.

Everyone is tired. Everyone has gone tired. What with the unfulfilled promises of the past two People Power? The world goes on turning, with Marcos’s body finally subject to the actions of worms and vermins, after years of keeping it almost lifelike inside a tomb his family built for him.

But even rats and roaches won’t touch him. Who would want to gnaw on a dessicated body preserved in formaldehyde for almost three decades?

Life goes on.

And that is the tragedy of the Filipino, myself included, this general quiet and seeming indifference, this lack of rage at the direction this country is heading.

And my train goes to the direction of home, and I’m dying for sleep.

Advertisements

On the virtue of nonparticipation

Three months back, before a friend of mine left for China, the two of us had a light talk like we always had been doing after we finished a day’s worth of work. We were walking on the cobblestones of Ateneo talking about the sorry state of the country and how the May-9 election would impact the lives of Filipinos, the poor most especially. Our sector [we’re both teaching in that university] doesn’t stand much to gain nor lose from the result of the election, I thought.

We both agreed that the vision of a Philippines under Duterte was bleak. That time, however, Grace Poe was still leading the surveys rather comfortably, and the odds of Duterte’s win weren’t that great. It was obvious there wasn’t much choice from among the five vying for the position. If I could vote, I would have voted for Mar Roxas. But I was a nonparticipant in this democratic process. And I defended so vehemently my choice of not participating. I found the whole process unnecessary and ineffectual. One vote fewer would not rock the boat.

Seeing and reading about Duterte on TV and on online news these days, I felt for the first time regret for not having cast my vote. Duterte is often seen and heard foaming with vice in the mouth. Although he hasn’t yet been sworn in, he’s already begun sowing a culture of anger.

He’s presently enjoying a high level of popularity because after many years of hypocrisy, seeing a president-elect cuss, drop putang ina instinctively, catcall a TV reporter without showing remorse is a novel experience for most of us. Most take it as a sign of sincerity and truthfulness to oneself, Duterte the polar opposite of politicians we’ve come to detest for their duplicity and avarice.

But one accepted fact of our time is that novelties tend to lose their newness rather quickly. It’s a wonder now how Duterte has continued to remain popular. Although the consuming public is beginning to show sign of fatigue seeing his face, his unrelenting braggadocio, and unapologetic tirade against anyone he feels like shaming only to declare the next day he was just kidding. Kidding my ass!

He’s a dangerous man on the cusp of sitting in the most powerful position in this land. My friend was right. There’s no virtue in nonparticipation.

 

 

Why I have boycotted the past elections and will definitely boycott this one as well

Most will consider it scandalous to talk about enjoying a cup of freshly brewed coffee in the morning when everyone is supposed to be in his political animal mind these days. Elections are on Monday. And one cannot just write about the pretenses and the superficiality of the bliss of a cup of coffee without being viewed pretentious and shallow. It’s too light a topic. It’s a non-topic, for christsake! Any self-respecting, supposedly responsible citizen of this country must take part in this exercise, must be part of a nation desperately in need for change. But how shall I convince myself that all this be taken seriously? This is laughable, a comedy of basest sort. Comparing elections here in the Philippines to a circus has long gone trite. In fact, they’re expected to be circus-like, that they should be a circus.

Why have I boycotted the past elections and will definitely boycott this one as well?

Boycott is not exactly the most accurate word as there’s no hard line political reason I have not participated in this democratic exercise since I turned 18. I neither feel any compelling need to spectate in this farce nor do I think I can use my one vote to compel these politicians to do what should have been done a long time ago. Participating in this travesty will only add to the delusions of these jokers that I am complicit in their charade. I’d rather close my eyes, cover my ears and let Monday pass.

Likes

The much, too much a cacophony of noise on my Facebook page brought me back here on my blog to write again. To do the quieter act of writing that I miss a lot. A writing that’s less angry and bitter. I have gone sick of what seems to be a pressing need for everyone on my Facebook news feeds in expressing his thoughts on almost everything.

Nowadays, one’s silence is considered scandalous, the highest and the worst form of apathy. No one has the right to be quiet anymore lest this silence be interpreted as complicity. Of not doing anything to correct the wrong. I suggest we stop or slow down a little, and ask ourselves where this loquacity has led us. It has made us too busy to listen, too self-conscious, too full of ourselves; oh how we enjoy staring at ourselves being reflected in our witty Facebook status. Our Facebook status has become the quickest way for us to be heard, perhaps the only one thing that empowers us in this space that functions best at deadening our senses. Our only pathetic agency. And the likes are concrete indicators that somehow, somebody’s listening, reducing us all to likes, reducing all existentialist questions to questions of likes.

This ephemerality of our chosen medium, of posts being covered, superseded by other posts supposedly more important than the ones before, not necessarily contending against each other but definitely competing for our fleeting attention, has been a bane to us. This ephemerality has brought us nowhere. Although we have this comforting feeling that as a species we’ve made giant progress, in truth we’re deeper into the void we’re made to feel we have escaped.

We’re still lost, maybe even more lost this time. We’ve lost touch of what we truly value. Reflectiveness is a forgotten value of our time. We’ve all fallen victims to the medium. We fret about concerns of deciduous significance. The present is the only thing that really matters to us. We’ve lost hold of our past. And how we dread the uncertain future. The only thing that’s real is this invented present.

All this because of our grinding desire to be heard now, of a want to express what’s currently in our mind lest it obsolesces the next minute, where we are currently at lest time steals it away from us, who we are currently with lest this person abandons us, what we currently eat. Now this is truly sad. Everything is too important, too important we cannot entrust them to our memories.

Perhaps, this is why I am back here now. I want to relish this page and its beautiful silence that I missed so badly.

My reflection in the the mirror

Since moving to this new house, I have been using the kitchen as my study area instead of my room upstairs. My bedroom feels too big, drab, stuffy, dark, and I have better internet connection here; the router (or however you call it) is directly an arm’s length from where I am seated now.

Tonight, for the first time, I noticed my countenance (such fancy word!) reflected in the glass window in front of me. I’ve gained weight since I arrived here. I consume on average 3000 calories every day and I hardly visit the gym because of my tight schedule in school and my homework that pile up faster than I can get rid of them. If not for the regular push-ups and ab crunches I do every 15 minutes, then for sure all those definitions I worked hard to achieve will give way to the flabs that take minimal effort to gain.

I also have grown my hair long since I cannot afford to part with my 15 dollars to pay the barber. This is the longest time I have gone without a haircut. I look odd; my head feels heavy. My unusually curly, more correctly, kinky, hair is beginning to take charge and dictate on me the rules of its daily upkeep. I spend more than ten agonizing minutes each day styling it and making sure it stays in this position during most part of the day.

I have also been growing mustache in order to look, I don’t know, sleek. And seriously mature. It’s itchy but I feel relieved it has not led to a pimple break-out so far. I suppose spring here helps. The air is dry so my skin remains dry the whole day; there’s much less dust hence the pores of my face are not clogged. The result, a much clearer skin.

I also want to add that diet may also play a crucial role. Vegetable and fruits are a staple in every meal.

I sounded vain in the previous three paragraphs or so. But it’s the fault of the glass window before me. I would never have been conscious had the table been placed somewhere. Now, it’s the table.

Man is one of the few creatures on this planet conscious of his existence and how this existence render changed and never-the-same-again everything and everyone around him.

This awareness, by the way, also changes him.

Nearness

I rushed from Ateneo to Makati, thirsty, hungry, and physically and emotionally exhausted after a long day of seemingly endless readings and talking. I waited outside your building drenched in perspiration after brisk walking from the MRT station in Ayala to Paseo de Roxas and running from there to the front of your building. I waited more. Not wanting to sound very excited, I waited some more because you were already maybe “in a hurry”, I told myself. But I made the mistake of succumbing to my thirst. I left to buy Gatorade at a 7eleven in the nearby block only to receive that text saying my making you wait was “not funny”.

I was flabbergasted.

I saw nothing wrong in letting  you know I was.

Tonight, I am sleeping alone (because you wanted to spend the night by yourself). And because I badly need rest, a quiet time to read that book I was meaning to read but never found the time and space, a moment to check a handful of my students’ papers, and to watch Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation or a History Channel documentary. And to also have my share of this solitude.

And you also need this as much as I do.

We often ignore the value of distance (or space) and its benefits to any type of relationships. In fact, it is necessary as it gives both parties a breather; it allows them to stretch here and there, and, maybe, give them chances to long for each other, something they forget as essential to a well-functioning union.

And so tonight, when I’m done pumping iron at the gym, when dinner is over, when I am about to sleep, I’ll relish the moments but will look forward to seeing each other again. Tomorrow, hopefully.