The president, where is she?

The president, according to her aides cannot attend the joint session of the House of Representatives and the Senate that hears the legality of the Martial Law declared in Maguindanao. To quote her minions, she cannot personally defend the declaration because  “she’s busy”.

Plain and simple.

Now let us try to dissect the definition, etymology, subtexts, subtleties, and hidden meanings of this simple English word, busy. Afterwards, we’ll decide for ourselves whether the president’s excuse is justified.

Etymology: Middle English bisy, from Old English bisig; akin to Middle Dutch & Middle Low German besich busy
Date: before 12th century. (The word is rather old, Germanic. Using this as an excuse, might have been started by old Germanic tribes. The word used as an excuse is trite and and has long lost its meaning.)

1 a : engaged in action : occupied (with actions of sinister character) b : being in use  (the president is maudlin)

2 : full of activity : bustling (her personal economy is)

3 : foolishly or intrusively active : meddling (been uncontrollably meddling with this country’s development since 2001)

4 : full of distracting detail (sight of her in nightly news programs is annoying at best, death-inducing at worst)

synonyms busy, industrious, diligent, assiduous, sedulous mean actively engaged or occupied. busy chiefly stresses activity as opposed to idleness or leisure (too busy with her shady deals that only her malfeasance is felt). industrious implies characteristic or habitual devotion to work (what work?). diligent suggests earnest application to some specific object or pursuit (pursuit to forward only her and her family’s interest). assiduous stresses careful and unremitting application (indeed she is assiduous in conducting her evil doings). sedulous implies painstaking and persevering application (she sedulously and schemingly transformed this country to a failed state.)

Is there any responsibility of the president at this point that is more important than having to explain the reason why Malacanang declared Martial Law in Maguindanao? Now show us where that woman is hiding.


busy (comparative busier, superlative busiest)

  1. Doing a great deal; having a lot of things to do in the space of time given
    It has been a busy day.
  2. Engaged in another activity or by someone else.
    The director cannot see you now, he’s busy.
    Her telephone has been busy all day.
  3. Having a lot going on; complicated or intricate.
    Flowers, stripes, and checks in the same fabric make for a busy pattern.

[edit] Related terms


I am consumed by this rage I feel inside. I want to banter endlessly until I go hoarse and exhausted.

As of press time, the forensics are doing a numbing exercise of counting the bodies dug from the mass graveyard in Ampatuan, Maguindanao. The last count was 57. Fifty-seven mutilated, decapitated, and absolutely dead bodies buried, as if to mock, by an enormous backhoe owned by the province of Maguindanao. As if the entire act of burying massacred people is an activity similar to those done by giant trucks plying the national highways bearing the declarative “Government Project, Do Not Delay.” Yes, the massacre was a government project only this time bigger in scale, more efficiently and masterfully done, and the worst thing one can actually do just to keep hold of power.

“My wife’s private parts were slashed four times, after which they fired a bullet into it,” said Vice Mayor Mangudadatu.

“They speared both of her eyes, shot both her breasts, cut off her feet, fired into her mouth. I could not begin to describe the manner by which they treated her,” he added.

And all the Malacanang could say is “We don’t have full control of the situation on the ground, mortals as we are. Because we are only human, we cannot stop these things from happening, but we will just do whatever is legally possible within human limits to be able to stop [them] and improve on our performance as a government and as a country,” said Eduardo Ermita, the Executive Secretary.


This administration will do nothing, as this is like all other controversies it has faced before. Let the issue sit and settle and wait for the public to forget. But this one is something that is beyond us. It is a crime against humanity. And all the president could say is “…because we are only human, we cannot stop these things from happening.”


I’ve never seen a government as rotten as ours. How can we ever feel secure in a country where the government is inutile? I feel that I am in the climax of my pessimism. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is evil.

We see a local power clinging with all its claws to the power his family has held for more than a decade. Now think what a national leader will do just to have that power in her hands forever?

The image is grim.

It is beyond reason how somebody could do, or even contemplate of doing, such horror and atrocity. And it is beyond my 23-year-old mind to understand how this government I’ve innocently trusted could just brush this event like a regular-day-in-the-office or as one of those unfounded-issues-hurled-at-us-by-good-for-nothing-critics.

Now I feel nothing but pure rage. I feel like resigning from my teaching post at the university, go to the mountains, and wage war against this rubbish government.

Collateral Damage

September 8, 2008, Barangay Tee, Datu Piang, Maguindanao, in the Philippines. The sky was cloudy.

Mandi Bangkong, a resident of Barangay Tee, felt unusually cold for the monsoon season has already started. He was sitting on a bench with other men. His four young grandchildren were playing near the lake while the much older members of his household were preparing for the next meal.

AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) planes were hovering overhead. Mandi Bangkong felt an impending danger. He called his family to run to the lake and take the boats to find shelter in the other bunk. The children ran, covering their heads with their arms in the useless attempt to fend off bullets; the youngest boy crying, calling for his mother’s name.

100 meters above, one of the planes released two rockets aimed at the family of Mandi. Four of his grandchildren, one a pregnant teenager, died instantly of shrapnel and direct bullet hits, the other one died in the hospital while being desperately given first aid treatment. Their father, Daya Manunggal Mandi disappeared in the lake and was presumed to be dead.


Much has been said about military encounters. The properties damaged and individuals killed will remain unaccounted for, unnamed. Such is the character of war. These innocent individuals are pawns to these encounters – collateral damage.

“Unintentional damage or incidental damage affecting facilities, equipment, or personnel, occurring as a result of military actions directed against targeted enemy forces or facilities. Such damage can occur to friendly, neutral, and even enemy forces.” (United States Armed Forces Intelligence Targeting Guide)

My closest experience of war was when I was in my sixth grade seeing our town public market in a local television news program surrounded by tanks and military men. The fear that seeped through my senses during that time was beyond my ability to express. For being twelve years old, seeing with one’s eyes the possibility of death and the result of violence were too much for me to bear. And I just couldn’t imagine those whose lives remain lacking of peace because war chose their homeland to be its arena.

War might have gone cliché for some of us who have been constantly exposed to sloppy coverage of war in Mindanao by local news programs. But for those whose lives will be difficult to define outside the context of war – the children recruited to join rebel groups, the family of Mandi Bangkong, faceless and nameless victims of war in Mindanao living a life caught between crossfire, these clichéd portrayals of their lives will forever be unjustifiable.

Collateral damage, a bland and colorless word, will never fully capture the fear, lives lost, family separated all in the name of national security, national unity, national integrity. Behind these nightly television news about the war in Mindanao are lives whose stories are more compelling than the best documentaries ever produced but will remain hidden in numbers because seeing faces behind these numbers will just be too much to comprehend for an ordinary viewer who is comfortably sitting on a couch in a far-away Manila.

Collateral damage will not tell us about the young children who died because the Philippine army mistook them for rebels. Their bodies will not say anything about the atrocities that caused their deaths because they had to be buried, according to Muslin tradition, before sundown, denying them of any chance to be autopsied.

But who will care looking into the death of these victims. They are after all just the usual result of war – collateral damage.