“Right Names”

by Juan L. Mercado

“How   can we restore order under the heavens?”  And  Chinese  sages  would reply: “Call  things by their  right names.”

Constitutional  scholar Joaquin  Bernas  did  just  that.  House Resolution 1109  is a  public declaration to commit a crime, he snapped. When  congressmen  keel-haul  the constitution, by shutting out the  senators,  felony  begins.

Wednesday’s   protest, in Makati,  embroidered  that  name-tag.  Businessmen weighed in with  Central Bank and National Economic Development Authority. Shuffling  the cha-cha when the economy teeters on  brink of recession is “ill-timed”.  

Bloggers, tweeters  and  facebook  aficionados  are not  as restrained. “Kick Con Ass,” they demand.  Are  they  today’s   version  of  cellphone texters who formed People Power Two’s cutting edge?

A  nationwide noise barrage, over the weekend, will  end  this Makati  starter. Pot-banging  and horn honking,  in 1984,  preceded People Power One.  Is a “critical mass” forming?  Or will  this  fizzle?.   The next  few days may  tell.  Watch  the players meanwhile.  

Don’t wait for us, Catholic bishops  told their flocks. Hit  the streets;  but  avoid  brass knuckles.  Stay  in the barracks,  some generals cautioned soldiers.

El  Shaddai’s   Mike Velarde  keeps  cards  close to his  spangled  bow tie.  Trust “Brother”  Mike.  He   knows which  side of  eternity  the  cash  is found.  Iglesia  Ni  Kristo  invariably  sits  until  quarter of  midnight.  Seek ye first the victor. Then,  the  kingdom will be given unto you.

This early, you know  where  Eddie Villanueva  of Jesus-Is-Lord movement  stands. He’ll  call out  “five  million followers”  against  cha-cha.  Call?  From  where?  He scraped up less than five percent of votes in the last elections.

“I  can call spirits from the vasty deep,”  Glendower  bragged.  Hotspur replied :“Why so can I, “or so can any man,” Hotspur replied.. “But  will they come when you do call for them.”    

Malacanang  isn’t  taking  chances. To tamp  down a  firestorm, the Palace is on persuasion mode. Spokesmen  parrot   a business-as-usual  line..  Dirty tricks, like  text messages on A(H1N1)  threats in rallies,  bounce  around.        

In   a  country  about to be gang-raped,  life  goes on.  Migrant Sunday rolls around  early Lent.  But  1037  Filipinos  mark it daily  They  hoof  it  for “ far-away places with strange-sounding names”. Recession and job-squeeze  don’t faze them.. They  don’t wait for cha-cha either..

HR1109   means nothing  to eight  Filipinas who die daily from pregnancy and child birth related causes. Yearly,   700,000 babies  are aborted, given  hard-to-come-by family planning services  All  are   just as dead as   PR man Salvador Dacer and drver Emmanuel Corbito.  Ask  “Bigote” and  Panfilo  Lacson..

A  quarter  of  pre-schoolers  suffer  chronic hunger. Many of  over  24  million  kids are crammed into a school  system perennially in crisis.  Error-studded textbooks, as an Inquirer editorial  noted, does everything but educate.

Read   this  quote  that Inquirer spotlighted.  Aloud   please.:“The dog rolled on the floor so fast and fell on the ground. There  he laid  yelling louder than ever. The dog  yelled on top of  his voice.”

Whistleblower   Antonio  Calipjo  Go spotted  that “classic”  as he combed public  textbooks.“The  Economist”, this week,  used that fractured  sentence to stress “the cost of being tongue-tied  in the colonizers’ tongue.”

Poor  English  zapped plans to nail  10% of  the world market in outsourcing  by the end of 2010, the magazine reported.. Nine  out of  ten otherwise qualified job applicants, mostly college graduates, flunk. Their English  wasn’t up to the job.

“Once ( the Philippines) claimed to have  more English speakers than all but two other countries,” the magazine  said. But… three decades  of  decline in the share of  Filipinos who speak the language, and  deteriorating proficiency of those who can manage some English,  eroded one of the country’s advantages in the global economy.”

Swiss   business  school  IMD  publishes  “World  Competitiveness Yearbook”. It’s latest edition reports  the  Philippines is wedged  into slot 43 out of 57 countries studied.  

As in other things,  Filipinos joke about this problem. They  spin  the fictional story of  a   Japanese Prime Minister  given  basic English  training  before meeting  US  president Barack Obama…  

“When you shake hands with  President Obama,   please say ‘how r u’,” the trainor said.    Mr. Obama  will say: ‘I am fine.  And you?’  You  should  say: ‘Me too’..  Afterwards , translators  do the work .’  

When  the Prime Minister  met  Obama , he  said: ‘Who r u?’ ( Instead of ‘How r u?’.)    Obama  reacted  with humor:   “Well,  I’m Michelle’s husband, ha-ha-ha”…  Prime Minister:   ‘ Me too, ha-ha-ha.’

But   it’s no  joking  matter  that “teachers have been flunking English for years,” the Economist adds.  “In 2004,   only one in five teachers passed the English-proficiency test…. The country winced when the 17-year- Miss Philippines (in the) World beauty contest failed spectacularly to answer in English  usual questions posed by judges.

The   Philippines  hasn’t budged  from cellar-status  in the International Mathematics and Science tests.   Over 48 countries   participate  in these exams, first administered  in 1999. The last one was given in 2007.

“We’re  appalled  at  the  indecency and blatant disregard of the Filipino people’s will displayed by the House of Representatives in its adoption of HR1109,”  trade chambers said.   Congressmen  no longer blush.  Thus, they spurn   the sage’s advise:  “Call  things by their  right names.”

(E-mail: juanlmercado@gmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

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