Jose Ma. Montelibano
Like many other Filipinos, I read, listen or watch news about Janet Napoles. I have been doing so ever since her cousin, Benhur Luy, began to talk about a web of corruption that he was part of until the latter part of 2012. Because I write a weekly column, I tend to remember highlights, time periods, and how an issue runs hot, gets cold, fades, gets buried, and sometimes resurrects.
Recently, especially after Napoles seeks to be a state witness herself and comes up with her own list of government officials, or their fronts, who have been on the take, an unusual level of noise from those denying, from those accusing, and from those just unable to resist commenting. It has been a virtual cacophony, a Tower of Babel relived, enough to confuse the silent majority with contrasting and conflicting opinions. It is not the alleged lists from Napoles that confuses more, but the personalities in and around the lists, and the more vociferous among kibitzers.
In several articles I have written, and group discussions I have joined, I keep repeating a message that should be part of our national psyche already but sadly is not. And I mean our land and our seas, the motherland, our home and the first source of our identity. I do not see myself stopping from giving the same message over and over again either, in many ways, to many audiences - especially the majority poor of our population who have never tasted that truth.
I have much to be grateful to China's bullying. This giant of a country is making a ridiculous claim on land and seas that our forefathers have regarded, and used, as their own, as our own. A quick look at the map of Asia, especially Southeast Asia, shows how islands so near to our mainlands, and so far from their Chinese claimants, would be unquestionably part of the Philippines. Even China, if it were not the giant it is, the military and economic power it is, would feel embarrassed about its 9-dash line. It is not about history. It is not about vision. It is about expansion by force. It is about arrogance.
What is the difference between big islands and small islands? Basically, nothing except for size. And where they are located. Their location defines them, just as they define their inhabitants.
The islands and the seas of the Republic of the Philippines define their inhabitants, the Filipino race. Without these land and seas, there would be no natives, no Filipino people. If these same land and seas belonged to another country, like Indonesia, Malaysia or China, there would be no Filipinos, just more Indonesians, Malaysians, or Chinese.
Reality check: Politics in the Philippines, from the 16th century to the present, has been dominated by Catholics.
Therefore, asking for Catholics to enter politics and other social fields like business and other professions, for the purpose of cleansing these from corruption and abuse, is like asking for more of the same.
Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle did ask for the faithful of the Catholic Church to enter the infected fields of Philippine society, especially politics, and infuse these with Catholic virtues in the footsteps of Jesus. If all these areas had not already been the almost exclusive domain of Catholics, this exhortation would be meaningful. But, as it is, in the context of historical and current reality, the published exhortation made in the recent Holy Week is somewhat comic.
It is always good to begin at the beginning. This sounds simple enough, but not for a vast majority of Filipinos.
To test about how intimate Filipinos are about their knowledge of the beginning, I asked a group of young men a simple question, “What makes you Filipino?” There followed an interesting exchange of views and sentiments. Then, one of them, in his Facebook page, posted the same question to his friends.
Napoles begins to crack, and the crack can be major. It goes beyond the smaller details that most commentaries are focused on. Rather, Napoles spilling some or all that she knows about what she did and whom she did it with breaks the myth that crime pays.
Certainly, I have no illusions that some will get away. I have no doubts either that many will not, especially when they thought they had already covered their tracks. There is a wall that seemed invincible except by People Power. After all, two versions of People Power did trigger plunder raps against two presidents.
The Supreme Court affirms the constitutionality of the RH Law, except for some specific provisions. Whatever it is, the RH Law goes into effect, maybe watered down, but nevertheless has changed a landscape forever. It signals, too, more changes in that same landscape, as in the reality of divorce everywhere except in the Philippines.
With the RH Law and the anticipated push for divorce in the Philippines, the domestic hierarchy of Catholic Church will be rudely awakened. The rude awakening, though, will not make the more conservative in religious or lay groups to roll over and submit. I anticipate that they will bring the divorce issue to confrontational struggle again.
“If one day China should change her color and turn into a superpower, if she too should play the tyrant in the world, and everywhere subject others to her bullying, aggression and exploitation, the people of the world should identify her as social-imperialism, expose it, oppose it and work together with the Chinese people to overthrow it.” ~ Deng Xiaoping speech at the United Nations, April 10, 1974
In less than a week, it will be April 10, 2014, or forty years to the day when China’s great leader and architect of its unstoppable march to superpower status said this speech. And the man who knew enough about human weakness, about the lust for power, himself a victim but persevered, would now be on the verge of a revolution to overthrow the Chinese government. For today, China is bullying, not just the Philippines, but almost every neighbor it has.
I am aboard an airplane bringing me home to Manila after two great days in Iloilo province. It seems that being busy and able to help Yolanda victims somehow mitigates the growing frustration that even I, an active member in the humanitarian work of Gawad Kalinga (GK), have been feeling these last two months. I wonder about those who were devastated, emotionally and materially. I wonder about the needy among them, how being born in the wrong side of the fence can still deserve salt being rubbed into the open wound of poverty.
The first stop was the municipality of Concepcion where a convergence of generosity will establish a new GK village. A landed woman of substance from the town and the Religious of the Assumpta combined their donation of land and funds. Then, Gawad Kalinga provides a vision, a community development template, and a heart ready to embrace the challenge of holding hands with the marginalized towards their freedom from a historical curse. The fruit of this collective endeavor will be families finding security of tenure and decent homes for the first time in their lives, and the first time in their lineage of several centuries.
It may be that news is important, but seldom so. It is voluminous, for sure, what with tri-media becoming a business more than a service. It used to be that media outlets would seek profits from entertainment and subsidized news programs. Not anymore, though, as news sell nowadays, and sensationalized news the most saleable.
With news becoming products for profit, volume and form become more important than content. Early morning news, midday news, evening news, late night news, and some even have mid-morning and afternoon news. Each news show has a deadline, and news departments have several deadlines a day.