• Distance


    THERE is nothing like being away from Manila to make one realize how news does not travel fast, and there is much that goes on in the national government and Manila that would pass you by as a matter of distance. Yes, in good ol’ Tiaong Quezon, the Smart Bro Wifi I got specifically for this trip means practically no internet during the day, and the cable stations are all confused and confusing – if we get a signal at all.

    These are not complaints, mind you. More a statement on how ignorance is bliss. Or just the fact that from where I stand all stories from Manila sound like faraway tales.

    The incident with the misbehavin’ reporter

    I’m a fan of Doris Bigornia, and not because of all the hype about her being a “Mutya Ng Masa.” Instead it is because it’s been fun watching her evolve on nationwide TV.

    In the beginning it seemed like she was that woman ABS-CBN did not know where and how to place alongside the rest of the well-dressed and sushal roster of female newscasters and reporters. And then it became clear that she was being pitted against GMA7’s Susan Enriquez, sold as the every-Pinay woman, the every-nanay, every-Ate, every-manang, who people could run to for complaints and some street smart Pinay advice.

    Ah, but it seems Bigornia outdid Enriquez, because the former has reinvented herself. She remains approachable and humorous, but also she’s played around with the way she looks and is now more punk than anyone else on news and public affairs. On DZMM Teleradyo, she is made-up just right, styled specifically to look like the every-nanay who is (pa-)cool and (pa-)young, but it all works because she also knows to laugh at herself.

    This is why the story of her misbehaving at The Script Concert in Manila was a surprise, because one would expect, more than her being “pa-masa,” that she would be more cool in the face of a public confrontation like that. Of course she has since said that much of what the Facebook story on the incident said was false; she’s also said that she only spoke out to defend her children when they were allegedly accosted after the concert.

    But I think the misbehaving might have started with the mere fact that on VIP tickets, people really do expect to sit and watch a concert, and not have to deal with people around them standing up and blocking their view. That happens for people in the cheaper seats; in the VIP section one pays for the unobstructed view of the stage while sitting comfortably.

    That Bigornia did not deny having stood up instead of staying seated, that she was not on the other side of this complaint against others who decided to stand up without caring for the rest of that audience, that to me is when the misbehavin’ started.

    The tale of the customs chief
    This is the story of one man’s resignation from what can only be a coveted post as chief of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

    What strikes me about John Phillip Sevilla’s statement about his resignation is how he sounded like a man who regretted that he was leaving his post at all. There was no anger in his voice, as there was sadness; there was more defeat then there was frustration in his tone. He had not finished what he started, he said. He seemed to have had high hopes for reforming the BOC.

    This makes one think that he was left with no choice but to resign, having been pressured time and again to agree to someone’s appointment as head of the enforcement and security services (ESS), someone he did not believe was fit for the position at all.

    This is a story we’ve heard often enough happening in government. How the few good men decide to raise their hands in surrender and declare defeat, because there’s just no way to fight the system. Many might say Sevilla should have stayed and continued fighting the good fight. I say the worst system to fight is that one run by people who assert and believe that theirs is the righteous and correct path. The worst enemies are those who think they’re doing good.

    With election season about to start, our worst enemies will be the every-politico running for office.

    The story of the OFW
    As of this writing, Mary Jane Veloso has been brought to prison island in Indonesia, and news has it that this is already in preparation for her execution.

    It is unclear whether or not her family, flown in from Manila, will be able to see her at this point. It’s also unclear whether or not any of the efforts made to save her life will affect the Indonesian court’s decision on her case.

    The case of Mary Jane is sad not merely because it is an injustice. It is sad because she had left as an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). She had left the nation because she had no choice but to do so. She could not earn in the Philippines what she was promised she would earn elsewhere.

    She was to be one of thousands of OFWs anyway, and her story would be no different. She would merely be another migrant worker, called hero in the Philippines, and thanked by politicians for her contribution to nation.

    But Mary Jane was also ill informed about the dangers she might face elsewhere. She was not prepared for the possibilities of being used to do illegal work. She was not taught to look out for signs that she is being, or might be, victimized.

    Elsewhere in this country, away from Manila, few stories survive the distance. It’s entirely possible that I’m missing out on some important angles, of course, but maybe what that proves is that while we might think we are in a time when information is boundless and all gaps have been bridged, in a Philippines that suffers from uneven development, distance is as real as detachment.


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