Up where we belong


By Rene Saguisag

“More tourists flock to Albay as Mayon erupts; hotel occupancy up.”

It seems Albay Gov. Joey Salceda would do anything for money, to attract tourists, including plotting with Mayon.

Seriously, in Boston, everyone locked down while terrorists were being hunted.

In the Philippines, usizeros flock to and crowded the scene of the action during bloody coups. And enterprising journalists are shown on TV, asking, “Kayo pong naghihingalo, ano pong masasabi at pakiramdam ninyo?” Yellow ribbon or bands are disrespected and cops are so mabait. Only in da Pilipins, where most everyone is terrified of media. . . .

I would have thought that Dick Gordon would have been the earliest and loudest to erupt against the proclamations of the elected Senators. But, he has been uncharacteristically quiet. He knew something we didn’t?

When I turned on the TV last Sunday, chancing on the closing or denouement of An Officer and A Gentleman, partly shot in Subic(?), I thought of Dick as a perfect gentleman since. I had lived with the possibility he’d be in the bottom half of Senators; he would have been an addition. But, no fire-and-brimstone fulmination about the proclamations, as well-wired as he is. Hmmm.

After voting for Bam and Grace, I voted for some losers who I thought could use my help, so I endorsed and voted for them. In a sense, we all lost when Dick did. I was reminded of what he had done for Subic and of the theme song in An Officer. etc., with Richard Gere carrying Debbie Winger in his arms, “way to go Paula! “ to the strains of Up Where we Belong, which all Atenean can sing as Eagles. We Bedans are comparative yagits on the ground, being only king of the jungle, as Lions.

It used to be that young ‘uns would run for local posts or even Congressman, but never for the Senate immediately, by being an assistant to his father. Like Ninoy Aquino who ran for the Senate at 34; but the phenom had breezed through high school in San Beda in three years, went to Korea as a correspondent of this paper, helped in the surrender of Luis Taruc, advised Magsaysay, and became mayor of Concepcion, Tarlac, among other things.

(Let’s exclude his supposedly being kamandag, a role for which Butz, another Bedan-Atenean, was known, and he played a key role in our redemocratization; we cannot underrate anyone’s capacity for subjective change and growth).

So the sovereign people took a gamble on Grace, Nancy and Bam. But Grace had held a previous government post, and Bam was Ateneo summa and held a similar government post. Nancy can only say assistant to Jojobama. Rather thin.

But, nandiyan na yan, and all elected deserve the benefit of the doubt. It is the institutional arrangement. So we give Nancy some slack the way we do Erap, 2010 winner in Mindanao and 2013 winner in Manila.

In our time and earlier, Senators won on the basis of Performance, Not Promise. That included Erap, who had been a good mayor of San Juan for years.

Pareng Boy Brillantes would be well-advised not to file any case against anyone, which like Lenny Villa’s case may last for decades, when he and I should be in the Promised Land or where our critics tell us to go. Ampatuan? Guru and Panginoon Joker Arroyo said the case would last a couple of centuries. Lenny’s case, now on its third decade. He was killed in a frat hazing tragedy on February 11, 1991.

The Senate shares with the Prez leadership in foreign relations. Grace & Co should take crash courses on Sabah, Scarborough and Taiwan. There could be brainstorming on whether to ask all our paisanos in Taiwan to come home unless Taiwan behaves better. They could come home June 30, July 31, whenever.

Better to die on one’s feet than live in shame on bended knees. Of course, a man must live—Dr. Johnson did not see the necessity though—and we understand that survival is the first law of mankind. But once upon a time, in 1986-87, in a brief shining moment, we asked what we could for the country and not what the country could do for us, inspired by Ninoy’s The Pinoy Is Worth Dying For.

So we should rethink whe­ther it is time for another Camelot, a shining moment.

I wrote this in advance as I was booked to fly out early last Tuesday for the graduation of Nancy’s classmate in St. Scho Hi, our darling Lara, to graduate on May 23, as a Doctor of Philosophy – Children’s Studies, Rutgers U (no telling how many in our Second Childhood like me can use her discipline). She was 1991 Kulasa hi-school salutatorian.

I cannot decide for her what she should be. Her Mom and I came home after Harvard and Boston College (which Grace also attended). Lara will begin teaching in the Fall in New York. But, as many as can return among our expats should, to help bring us Up Where We Belong.

Celestial, from the abyss two decades of Macoy and Imelda and a decade of GMA and Mike plunged us.

We have high hopes for the Young Turks, who venerable Senator Amang Rodriguez once called reportedly as Young Turkeys. (“Where are the bombers?” he asked supposedly.

There was a fire. Bombero pala.)

We need to avert James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time.

So a year from now, can we say Nancy, Bam and Grace – Way to Go! May we wish you the best and the finest the next twelve months can bring anyone.


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