Friday, February 22, 2008

Taking Responsibility

"Anna, you got to help. All the rest has said their piece and we have been quiet. They are waiting for us to make a stand."

That was JP, leader of an old and respected professional group in the country -- sounding anxious. He was my former boss and now a good friend.

He wanted me to revise his group's position paper on "a damaged people" that they wanted to publish in the dailies soon.

JP, I told him, how can I help you? I don't understand what's happening. And I don't want to; I refuse to.

That was the truth. That wasn't mere avoidance of more work (though I have a rising hillock of papers atop my desk).

For months, I had insulated myself from the percolating political turmoil. I cocooned myself in my own little world where I was peacefully and blissfully mothering/grandmothering, book writing/editing, maintaining my innocous blogsite, keeping up with my limited social life, and otherwise pretending I was immune to execrable pinoy politics.

"Nope," I repeated as though to convince myself, "I have stayed too long in the cold to warm up to the issue now."

"Just go over our draft, edit it, polish it" -- JP persisted. "Add your own thoughts. We will give you materials, answer all your questions."

JP and I go back a long way. He accompanied me to then Constabulary Chief Fidel Ramos when my father was detained in Crame in the early days of martial law. JP would buy, when I asked, remote control cars and other toys for all my boys during his official trips abroad. In turn, he expected my editing help. He has always been so persistent and pushy in a sweet way, sometimes sending me roses. And he knows, I suppose, in the end I'd find it hard to say "No."

That was how I began my crash course on the national drama series starring Neri, Lozada, Abalos, and the Arroyo couple, with a supporting cast from the Senate, the cabinet, the clergy, the old leadership, the civil society, the military.

"Are we about to oust another president?" -- I kept asking.

"Yes" seemed to be the answer though I didn't hear a categorical affirmation.

"Who's going to take her place?" -- I fretted.

"Lacson is good," JP's friend, a prominent businessman replied. When I made a face, I was promised an email about the good but misunderstood man that Ping Lacson was. Roxas and Gordon's names were also mentioned, but in halfhearted tones.

"What about Bayani Fernando" -- I said. I always thought we needed to be strong-armed, the same way Lee Kuan Yew bullied the Singaporeans.

The more I read the news and commentaries and the more I watched tv talk shows, the less I was able to form categorical judgments. I was unable to unerringly separate the good guys from the bad. I see most of the players in varying shades of gray. I could not tell: Who are on the take? Who are letting themselves be manipulated? hostaged? Who are prevaricating? Who are shielding who and from what? Is there a direct link between the abominable corruption and GMA?

It might be because I am EDSA-fatigued. At EDSA 1, I rehearsed, with other women, confronting imaginary tanks, cajoling imaginary soldiers and offering them real, not imaginary, white roses. (I was disappointed when the tanks didn't show up in our part of EDSA). I got involved too in a near stampede at EDSA 2 where I observe my young daughter who had a mild heart disorder turn from pink to gray and myself about to collapse from lack of air.

Or because of a sneaking suspicion we are character-blemished as a people and that regardless who sits next in Malacanang would sell our national patrimony down the drain as well.

Or because there is something inherently wrong with our political systems that breed leaders with absolute power which of course absolutely corrupts.

I don't know. I am not sure.

The only thing I was sure of, as I wound up my information seeking, was what I have always known before -- that we all take personal and collective responsibility for the rut we find ourselves in.

We felt euphoric after the two EDSAs. After anointing our new heroes and new leaders, we went back to our own little comfort zones and our own little compromising ways, and our own little machinations to preserve our own little status-quos. We all have Lozada's oh-so flexible tolerance boundaries, don't we? -- that point up to which we are willing to compromise our so-called principles. I myself cheered when GMA cheated in the last elections in my paranoia over sending another actor to Malacanang.

That is what I added, not in exact same words, into JP's group position paper.

Yesterday morning, after I submitted the revised paper, JP summoned me to where he and his colleagues were meeting.

When I opened the door, I entered to the clapping of hands.

Flabbergasted, I mumbled lamely there was absolutely nothing new I wrote there.

They said not to worry and that people simply needed to be reminded.


feng said...

oh, the dilemma of being both a citizen of this country and a worker in government. I hear you loudly from here. actually, yours is like the same sentiment as mine. nga lang, for now, I'd rather reserve that opinion.

myepinoy said...

Seriously speaking, I have yet to see what is the plan in case Gloria steps down or be forced to step down. Is changing ourselves part of the plan? Is our vigilance and being active in our society are just for the hour? Are we going to just sing a song, drink our beers, do nothing again and let the devil do its work and wear Prada? Just like in a song that says, “Let the devil takes tomorrow, but tonight I need a beer err friend.”

We cannot afford to have Gloria stay longer in power but we cannot also afford to relax after she is gone.

If we care for the night, let us also take care of the morning after (parang commercial ah).

This time I wish, sana maging PATRIOTIC na tayong mga Pinoy, not just for an hour or days (like this) but all throughout.

Kaya ayaw ko ng history. history repeats itself eh. i hate repetitions.

noemi said...

clap. clap. My sentiments exactly. You and each of us can do our share. one small step at a time.

Anonymous said...

same issues, different characters. sometimes, i just feel hopeless for our country. i hardly read the headlines.

Gypsy said...

You said so eloquently how I feel--that is why I don't really bother to find out what really happened, I have a sneaking suspicion that we the ordinary citizens are all taken for a ride by those who run (and want to run) this country. Where do we go from here? Only God knows...

SexyMo said...

i knew it, i felt it in my heart when we last met that soon, you would come out of your shell, not necessarily to take a stand yet, but to be aware of what's happening, then DISCERN.

we still have a long way to go, but the important thing is to face the light, and once we have gotten what we all deserve, we continue in our small ways to be vigilant and do our part.

Mabuhay ka Annamanila!

rowena said...

Hi AM, like you, I wanted to ignore all the noise but I just can't help it. Was in govt' service for ten years right after I've graduated from college. And you wouldn't believe what I've seen. I would tell my boss if any of our colleagues was involved in anomalies, sumbungera ika nga. Often times, the scrupulous one gets fired. But when the boss is the corrupt one, I have no choice but to resign. Disillusioned talaga ako still I believe there's hope and me matino pang tao sa gobyerno.

Anonymous said...

It does occur to me that when we compare Marcos, Erap and Gloria, we can all condemn them but at the same time make comparisons with the devil and the deep blue sea.

In the end, we can only blame and embarrass ourselves if we stage a coup again. EDSA 1 was was noble and EDSA 2 was more of an embarrassment, a necessary stop gap measure for our stupidity. An EDSA 3 will be a total insult to our credibility in the eyes of the world.

Does killing the president solve our problem ? Methinks not

sasha said...

I also wonder who will replace GMA if and when she steps down. I believe some people are thinking of another Erap regime... wag naman sana!

Happy weekend, tita! :)

Rudy said...

I say don't let those belonging to political dynasties and brainless celebrities run for office in the next election. Better yet, take away the voting rights of the uneducated masses. I know this sounds harsh --- draconian even --- but isn't it the reason why those nincompoops are now running this country? Then again, that's just my two cents worth...

Leah said...

You deserve the applause. Well written. I am ignoramous in Philippine politics or any politics for what it matters. I certainly hope that this new struggle in the Philippine government gets resolved in a good way.

vernaloo said...

when it comes to Politics...I just shut my mouth. I mean yeah maybe I'm such a lousy Filipino for feeling indifferent but well...i just feel its hopeless...

julie said...

Probably not because of people power fatigue but because people are tired of having this cycle over and over. Sure we need reforms, we need to take responsibilities, we need accountability and transparency but these won't happen until we initiate the change in ourselves. Gasgas na nga itong line na ito, we need to start with ourselves, etc, etc.

The question is when?

ysrael said...

Sorry, but I still dont believe in EDSA 1 and EDSA 2. The only genuine People power I witness is People Power is the EDSA 3. Kasi walang lider na nanguna dito at walang military component na involved. Kasi ang hirap sa ating mga Pinoy wala talaga tayong tiwala kahit na sino pa ang mga maging presidente natin, siguro kahit si Jesus Christ pa ang maging Presidente natin pagbibintangan pa rin natin itong corrupt.

Abaniko said...

As for me, those politicians are all the same. They all have their selfish motives and they'll do everything to protect them. That's why I'm becoming indifferent when it comes to Philippines politics. Ala namang nangyayari eh. Puro lang dada.

kate said...

working for a section in a daily that's tasked to listen and record every single senate hearing on the national broadband network -- last night, they lasted from 10 am to 10 pm, i think, on anc -- the information overload, i think, has become somewhat numbing. all these half-truths half-lies that have to be reconciled, it's excruciating.

yet after everything, i still don't know what i'd like to happen next after gma.

Anonymous said...

I think they're all the same. If we are going to kick GMA out and replace her with someone just like her, then why bother? All those waiting in the wings are crooks as well, some may even be worse given the chance.

I agree with you. We need someone like Lee Kwan Yew here.

Auee said...

Oh Anna... What will we do for Pinas? It is disheartening and very disappointing.

lazarus said...

each one has an agenda. the opposition right now is not even united, as some suggested a council if ever GMA steps down. It's not even constitutional.

Stat Counter