Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 29 December 2018


The time of the year calls for resolutions, which are based on a desire to change or to improve what we have experienced in the recent past. I am putting a twist on things, however, by speculating on what Inang Bayan or Mother Philippines herself would ask for if she had the chance to talk. What do you think, Reader? Care to do this exercise with me?

Starting with the most recent past and going back to January of this year, without Google to refresh our memory, what would we want to list down in the never-to-be-repeated and the this-should-happen-again-and-again columns, insofar as Inang Bayan’s list of resolutions for next year are concerned? What events have brought glory and honor to her, and what events have put her to shame?

On the glory side, the latest that comes to mind is Catriona Gray’s victory in the Miss Universe pageant. Her immersion with the poor in Tondo, the intelligence she  showed with her answers to the questions posed, and her “Lava Walk” made her stand out against arguably prettier faces.

Maria Ressa’s making it to Time’s Person of the Year award was another feather in Inang Bayan’s cap. She represents the best in journalism and its triumph over fake news. Add to that the fearlessness she has exhibited—well, I am sure she has been afraid, but that certainly hasn’t stopped her from going about her business.

Of course, Inang Bayan must also be proud of all the international awards and citations earned by Sen. Leila de Lima even as she languishes in detention under trumped-up charges. But the latest on her, as you know, Reader, is that the United Nations has opined that her detention is without legal basis and should be lifted. She is unbowed, even after almost two years of incarceration. That puts Inang Bayan to shame at the same time.

We also have Imelda Marcos’ conviction—after more than 20 years of legal wrangling. It showed that justice, though often slow,  can triumph in the Philippines.  It gives hope that maybe it won’t take as long to convict others—the Binays, père et fils, come to mind—and separate corrupt politicians from their obviously ill-gotten wealth. (How can they be so rich on their  government salaries?)

The youth also did their country proud.  I remember the international win by students of the Immaculate Conception Academy at Harvard—something about being Global Trailblazers. And if I remember right, another female, this time from UP, won the International Public Speaking Competition held in London, the third Filipino to do so. The youth also won the gold in the 14th International Mathematics Contest in Singapore (they bested China). That is the best glory news ever.  Because this augurs well for the future. There is hope.

Now for the shame side—most of which has to do with politicians, either as victims or perpetrators or both.

Two members of a political clan (the Garins) were recently charged with assaulting a police officer while their fully-armed bodyguards stood by. That reminded me of when Sara Duterte, as mayor of Davao, punched a sheriff while he was doing his job. In the Garin case, the PNP filed the charges. But it is to be remembered that, in the Duterte case, the sheriff said that charges would be pressed, but it all came to naught. Naturally. One can only imagine the pressure brought to bear on the lowly government official who was mistreated.

Then there is the Batocabe murder, and the murders of  barangay officials during the May 2018 elections. Why candidates for local offices to the barangay level are in peril for their lives, one can only speculate.  Do those positions yield an income much greater than their paltry government salaries? Why else would they kill each other?

Arguably, the worst shame to Inang Bayan this year was the successful conspiracy between the executive, the legislative and the judiciary in kicking out Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, followed by rewards to the cooperating justices.

You may have your own lists. But I will ask one thing more: President Duterte—do you think he has brought glory to the Philippines, or shame? And if both, which was the stronger influence? I can’t wait to hear from you.