ACCEPTING ALL the opprobrium that I expect will be flung at Your Loyal Blogger kabayan, I admit that I’m as non-partisan as non-partisan gets. Despite matriculating at the so-called bastion of student activism (true only during the early Marcos years) and apprenticing under the school paper, I hold no strong worldview and just want to live out the rest of my years earning my bread, enjoying sparklingly entertaining books, living long enough to see my grandchildren and playing Tri-Peaks Solitaire. And maybe filling in the blanks in this DIY and user-friendly blogsite.
But like many non-partisans out there (whether or not you admit it) I love my country, and still feel a lump in my throat when a countryman/woman does well in the sports / cultural / scientific fields and chafe at the worn points when any of us Pinoys, individually or collectively, fall into shame or disrepute. Within our circle and among ourselves it might not hurt so much, we after all know each other cheek by jowl and can’t deny our warts and moles.
To strangers and outsiders though, it stings through and through, knowing that other peoples and races know of our faults and inner rots. It hurts even more when, seeing but not understanding, they only see the results of our complicated cultures, hierarchies and histories. Like any other tribe, Pinoys are the product of their assimilations, subjugations and contradictions. Can we explain why we are Catholic, modern, pro-American, anti-American, Islam, autonomous, secessionist, protectionist, populist, elitist (and sometimes a combination of some, most or all of the above), and never seem to be able to decide what we are?
Most of all, we are onion-skinned (I know I am), when we hear of negative press about the Philippines overseas :
How do we explain this in one paragraph? Muslim rebels engaging in the kidnap-for- ransom industry can do as they please because they are the proxies of military, police and political officials in the South. The warriors of Islam are actually slaves of the almighty dollar, who know only too well that dangling a sword over captives from the First World is the surest way of earning foreign exchange, without forgetting of course that their bemedalled, khaki-clad and high-handed masters claim their share first…
This will take a little more than a paragraph, but still I will try. Because many of our statutes are remnants of an era where civil and criminal laws had the same purpose, specifically the protection of the propertied and the landed, we often punished the commission of crimes against property as severely as those of crimes against persons. One of these is fraud or deception, which to this day is punishment-wise on a level with attempted homicide and serious physical injuries. Another special crime is illegal recruitment, probably because so many Filipinos want to go abroad to earn money.
The result? A visitor unfortunate enough to be caught committing both those two crimes will probably rot in jail for the rest of his life, like the Kiwi pictured above. It’s so hard to explain that it’s not just the NZ$5,000 owing to the Pinoy duped but the fact that through sweet enticements and trickery, such an amount changed hands, that caused the New Zealander to languish behind rusty bars, but the law is the law. That, and the fact that just returning the money will effectively restore the status quo. It’s that bizarrely simple.
[our friends overseas might also want to remember that the amount is about half a year’s pay for many of our kabayan back home, not that we’re nitpicking but it does make a bit of a difference for a family of six or seven struggling to make ends meet. ]
Surreal, inexplicable, upside-down bizzaro-type situations like the above two happen everyday in the Philippines, yet Pinoys like myself blush and grope for words when the rest of the world finds out about them. What to do, what to do? At this moment I’m not sure, but one thing I do know. Instead of aping (pun intended) those three chimps covering their eyes, ears and mouths, we would do better to confront, verify and spin these facts, and indeed show them our true (Pinoy) face, nunal, kulugo, and balat, moles, warts and all.
Thanks for reading!
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