• ‘Gates of Hell’ revisited


    THE pleading for “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” translates to sundin ang loob Mo sa lupa gaya ng sa langit. For lesser mortals like Filipinos, the bit of divine spark within can spill without. Or as a body of knowledge called hermeneutics has it, outward signs point up and show inner substance. In outward show of godliness, habits of cleanliness may be cultivated—maybe not.

    Jerking the knees, hands flailing in a fit of snit, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority top honcho raged, raved at a Dan Brown description of Manila as “gates of hell.” So we remember that episode past.

    As if to exorcise a less-than-divine sobriquet, the MMDA head personally led his crew in an attempt to rid tons of trash choking the waterways of the metropolis that has reeked of Styx for ages. As ants store up food for the rainy days, so does the agency wade into summer tasks to gird the metropolis for the onslaught of floods to come in the monsoon months.

    MMDA could work up a storm in days to come, plunge cranium and crew a lot more in an all-out clean-up try. The agency is sure to lose a lot of steam raging. Tons and tons and tons of refuse would be dumped every which way, here, there, and everywhere metropolis residents would. Styx stays, stench cannot be stanched. Neither the garbage habit can be stopped.

    “Clean up a pigsty and if the creatures in it still have pig-minds and pig-desires, soon it will be the same old pigsty again,” so wrote author Catherine Marshall.

    Sometime last year, a garbage-strapped Taiwan had offered to buy Quezon City’s 1,200 metric tons of trash turned up daily. The city turned down the Taiwan tender, looking forward to plans of plying out a P10-billion waste-to-power facility. Tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan is reportedly bankrolling the project that can generate 45 megawatts of electricity to light up nearby communities, maybe sell some surplus juice to Meralco he also partly owns.

    All such litter and clutter may, after all, translate to money and power.

    Long before the ‘re-use, recycle, reduce’ and ‘clean as you go’ slogans were plied, we had to figure out the sense lurking like a demiurge in ‘cleanliness is next to godliness.’

    That probably stemmed from the ages-old belief in so-called ‘unclean spirits’ or the ablutions needed before the faithful can offer prayers to the Almighty. Maybe two-bit epigenetics—how the environment and human choices can alter the very fabric of humanity and destiny, the genes . . . hygiene within and without has a way of getting into the genes.

    Or maybe feng shui that holds clutter, litter and trash emitting negative energies can deter steady flow of boons and yeah, hard cash.

    We rocked through belly laughs at the rage MMDA has hurled at Dan Brown’s gibe at our metropolis, at what needs to be done hour after hour to rid the metropolis of refuse.

    Pol Medina, Jr., who was kicked out of a Manila-based broadsheet, plied out a more palatable term for the trenchant ethos of the populace . . . yeah, love that. ‘Pugad-Baboy.’

    “Clean up a pigsty and if the creatures in it still have pig-minds and pig-desires, soon it will be the same old pigsty again,” so wrote author Catherine Marshall.


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