“The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars But in ourselves that we are underlings.”-Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
CRY, The Beloved Country is a novel of Alan Paton. It is my first encounter with apartheid South Africa. It is so passionate and engrossing that I was moved to tears, in the same manner that I was so captured and obsessed by the ideas flowing on the pages of the novel, when I read Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and Ignacio Silone’s Bread and Wine.
Alan Paton opened my eyes to the oppression and injustice of apartheid South Africa, on an ideological and personal level. It led to my finding one of the most charismatic and legendary figures in this planet – Nelson Mandela – adding to my collection of international heroes like Lenin and Leon Trotsky, John and Robert Kennedy, Fidel Castro and Ernesto “Che” Gueverra, Zou-en Lai and David Ben Gurion, among many other towering figures in this earth of mankind.. They are all warriors for mankind so the inhabitants of this planet can lead meaningful and fruitful lives.
Thoughts like these bring me back to solid earth, the Philippines – my country, your country, yours and mine.
Flood of candidates and election criminal offenses
The whole country is preoccupied with individuals filing their certificates of candidacy for thousands of positions from President of the Philippines down to municipal councilors. What amuses me is the number of candidates running for President – more than thirty of them, each one of them with his own grandmother statements to intergalactic renewal of the universe, not to speak of making the streets of Manila plastic.
The coterie of candidates is characteristic of a people of a country gone insane.
Why, is not election in this country a criminal process? Vote buying is a criminal offense, but the overwhelming majority of the candidates buy votes. Vote selling is a criminal offense, but majority of the voters sell their votes. Posting election propaganda in places prohibited by law is a criminal offense, but candidates and their followers post election propaganda in prohibited places.
Use of government money and facilities is a criminal offense, but government functionaries and their co-conspirators commit the crime with impunity. Certain size of election propaganda is prohibited, but everyone violates the prohibition. Media are required to be fair in their coverage of candidates, but they are unfair in every election in their coverage.
School teachers who are members of the board of election inspectors are bought by candidates to tamper with the voting process and election results, but they go scot-free. Officials and employees of the Commission on Elections manipulate the election process and election results in every election but they go unpunished.
If these practices continue to prevail in this country, without the criminals being punished, and it is hopeless to expect that they will be punished, are not the people of the country going insane?
I leave the answer to the intelligence, ignorance, insensitivity or personal greed and isolation of the readers.
On love of country
If there is a remaining tenuous thread that exists in the mind and heart of anyone in this country to do something about this pervading insanity in our midst, then the situation is not hopeless; the chance of national liberation cannot be very far away. They told me that my perception about regime change was hallucinatory when I fought the battles of this country on the floor of the regular Parliament for democratic restoration. It became a reality because the Marcos administration, unfortunately, was removed in seven days of intense pressure by a branch of the oligarchy and other power elites which successfully manipulated the people in Metro Manila.
As I have said it, over and over again, where Manila goes in the struggle for power in this country, so goes the rest of the nation, like dumb driven cattle!
To avoid this tragedy, we should teach our people – including the pretentious intelligentsia like the illustrados of old – what is love of country. For me, love of country should be defined in very plain and simple terms. For the overwhelming majority of our people, love of country is love for their family and their barangay because that is the only reality of country they know for the whole of their lifetime. For a few millions, probably it extends to their towns; for some hundreds of thousands, it extends to the provinces. Beyond that, it is a world which they don’t know and they cannot grasp.
Country is a legal fiction – a concept which not so many can grasp or understand. There are so many pretenders in this country who declare in discordant voices that they love this country, yet they enthrone dysfunctional and despicable systems which make the country an unjust and oppressive place to live in.
Do these people love our country – members of the House of Representative and senators who pocket the money of the people in projects designed from PDAF and DAP; the personnel in immigration allowing smugglers and other custom law violators go scot-free in exchange for millions or thousands of pesos of silver or gold; the officials and employees in immigration who allow human trafficking and foreigners to exploit our country and our people for monetary considerations; the policemen who extract money from law violators for them to run away with murder; the military officers and men who massacre, burn and rape so-called rebels; government officials who sell part of our country for millions of dollars; leaders who falsify their income tax returns and statements of assets and liabilities; Presidents and their running dogs who violate the Constitution with impunity; members of the Cabinet who commit graft and corruption without batting an eyelash while living luxurious and flamboyant lives; businessmen who do not pay correct taxes and cheat their workers by wantonly violating labor laws; criminals who prey on the unwary and the helpless; drivers who create havoc in the streets of our cities?
I can go on and on interminably with chains of examples, but does anybody really care? Nobody cares because they think that the situation is in the natural course of things and no one can do something to correct the wrongs of the past and of the present. Of course, that perception is a lie because nothing is beyond correction, if we try.
General Antonio Luna: The film
I saw Heneral Luna, the movie, away from the madding crowd in Manila, in the heartland of Mindanao, Cagayan de Oro City, on the insistence of many people I know. It is a very moving film for those who love our country. This film is a must see for Filipinos who do not know the meaning of love of country. General Antonio Luna, like Andres Bonifacio and Gregorio del Pilar, should be enshrined in the hearts and minds of our people. These men fought for our country as if there was no tomorrow. They should be the heroes whose statues should grace our plazas. .
The misfortune of history continues to wrap our lives. The victors in the struggle for power write the history of their period. They continue to grace our textbooks, detailing fraudulent stories of “heroes” who are really traitors to our country, seeking to poison and control our minds.
But traitors in our midst cannot continue colonizing our minds and our lives. We should legally exterminate them in the soonest opportunity like the creatures in a TV network which made fun of Heneral Luna with a tasteless insult and despicable parody which they labeled Heneral Tuna.
Overseas Contract Workers
The government and mainstream media, the notorious falsifiers of truth in this country, label the overseas contract workers (OCW), now called OFWs, as our modern heroes. For once they are right! The country has given us examples of Filipinos whose love of country goes beyond historical bounds. They have demonstrated love of country in very concrete terms. Country, among others, is family. They go to countries which they have never seen before. They work so hard so their families will have better and meaningful lives – braving loneliness and isolation for years, without being broken in the process.
They have propped up the Philippine economy for several decades. They have demonstrated the best in the Filipino of old – caring, trustworthy, principled, honorable, and courageous – with talent that could match, even surpass, those of other people of this planet.
How can you not feel proud of your country when Rose/Osang defeated everyone in the X Factor singing contest in Israel sweeping every listener off his feet while listening to her version of This Is My Life and My Way? How can you not feel proud of your country when you hear the four Filipino sisters sing and dance in a London stage X Factor contest wowing their audiences and getting standing ovations, including the dour and hard to please contest judge, Simon Cowell? How can you not feel proud of your country when you see Lea Salonga and Joanna Ampil getting worldwide critical acclaim for their excellent performances in the London, US, Canadian and Australian stage?
And they all publicly proclaim themselves citizens of the Philippines!
The overseas contract workers make me proud of my country. They have changed the national landscape of our country. They have homes and small business as a result of their determined efforts to change their lives and, wittingly or unwittingly, changed the demographics and the dynamics of our country.
They are the modern Andres Bonifacio, Antonio Luna and Gregorio del Pilar of this country. They are worthy of emulation – by both young and old.
To give meaning to their heroic service to family and country, I think, our people should construct monuments in every plaza in our country to honor them and their heroism. In so honoring them, we also honor ourselves.