Of One Million-Peso Dinner and Hungry Filipinos

I recall the days when we had to resort on scavenging plastics, can, and rusting metals around the house that could be sold to the junkshops just to have a dinner for the coming night. I also can’t stop recalling those days when Pa had to climb our coconut tree so that we could eat the coconut meat for our lunch. I just couldn’t help myself to recall those days and shake my head whenever the details of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s lavish dinner at Le Cirque in New York spring up at the news. Whatever explanation or “palusots” that they can come up with, the only thing that is clear is that the expensive dinner is plain wrong for the president of a third-world country that have a large segment of population experiencing starvation and malnutrition.

It doesn’t matter if it was a gift from an ally congressman or “palibre” of a private citizen. It doesn’t matter if the dinner is not delicious (as had been the “palusot” of Lito Lapid) or that the food in New York City is quite expensive (which is quite unlikely since middle class Americans can live inside the city). What matters is that President Arroyo and her friends have the heart to spend large sums of money on expensive dinners despite the fact that many Filipinos are hungry, that many Filipinos are experiencing the brunt of typhoon Kiko during her foreign travels, and that former president Cory Aquino just died. Where is the face offering sympathy to the Filipino people who lost a “mother?” Where is the PGMA who, in many photo-ops, shows that she is a caring mother of the Filipino people? When did it occur that a decent mother will stomach eating expensive food while her children are experiencing an eternal crisis?
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo counting money

How many Filipino people will benefit from $ 20, 000 worth of money? Pundits computed that the same amount of money can feed hundreds of children, print thousands of school textbooks, and could give the needed medical care of the poor patients. But instead of giving it to the people, PGMA and friends chose to spend it on a dinner that leaves a bad taste to the mouth of the Filipino people.

I can’t stop myself from pitying this country. This is the style of leadership that our politicians offer. I couldn’t help but be sad for the people who had to scavenge for food, for the people who have to scrounge the trash cans just to eat, and for the Filipino people who died because of starvation. That is just bad, too bad. :-(

Image was lifted from Manila Bay Watch blog.

An Outpour of Love for Cory

Last Wednesday’s funeral procession of the late Philippine President Corazon Aquino showed how much the Filipinos love this iconic woman. From 10 AM to about 8 PM in the morning, people from all walks of life joined the funeral procession and exhibited their support to Cory. Many of them wore yellow t-shirts and flashed the “Laban” sign, which was popularized during the first People Power.

Many scoffed, I included, that many people went their just to become “usiseros” and “usiseras” (oglers) since the event is occurs very rarely. However, the mere fact that many people braved the harsh weather waiting for the procession to pass by is evidence to the contrary. These people who suffered the changing moods of the sky, crushed by mass of people, and waited for very long hours really love the late President.

The procession became a version of the Feast of the Black Nazarene with people pushing one another just to get near the truck where Cory’s coffin was mounted. There are those who climbed up the vehicles and overpass just to have good vantage points. Street vendors and pickpockets took advantage of the event. The business of the street vendors is so good that many of the street vendors selling bottled water, fried nuts, and snacks along Espanya Boulevard opted to go to the procession. The PNP, on the other hand, caught many pickpockets during the whole duration of the procession. Camera and celphone cameras were all brandished by the people and the event became a photofest.

The procession also showed how “pasaway” the Filipinos are. Many of the kept on pushing and shoving other people just to get near the procession. The aftermath of the procession showed many properties trampled and upon and lots of trash that will be dealt with by the street sweepers.

President Cory Aquino proved to be the only person who could unite the Filipino people aside from Manny Pacquiao. Her battle against the Marcoses fostered unity in the waning days of Martial Law. Once again, she united the people in the midst of a threat for a new Martial Law.

P.S. What I liked the most during Cory’s funeral is the giving of military honors to the dead president. They are very snappy and I’ve never saw such an activity before. And I couldn’t imagine how Cory’s honor guard survived the long hours of standing on the funeral truck.

P.S. Read this again after 5 years and my reaction is -_-. I am so naive back then and I didn't know a lot of things. I don't believe in Cory anymore especially with the way she replaced the cronies of Marcos with her own cronies. She allowed the oligarchy to foster and the dirty politics to continue. What more disappointing is that People Power became the symbol of the Aquinos as if they're the ones who made it happen. No! It is the Filipino people who made the People Power successful. The political enemies of the Marcoses hijacked it for their own benefit.

Ninong All Over Again

Baptism, especially Catholic Baptism, is a solemn and serious ceremony. It is a holy sacrament of the Church. Those who are taking part in it should be strong in their resolve to do what they promise to God during the baptism. The mother, the father, and the godparents should have no hesitation whatsoever to accept the responsibility of rearing the child into a worthy person in the eyes of God.

I am talking about baptism because one of my not-so-close friend and neighbor invited me to be the godfather of his daughter the night before the baptism. Obviously, I was trapped not to decline his invitation unless I want to put enmity between him and me.

I was disappointed in the day of the baptism. The parents are not ready and the other ninongs and ninangs (godfathers and godmothers) are not serious. Apparently, the parents do not understand what they are subjecting their daughter into.
Catholic baptism

Catholic Baptism is not just an event when the priest pours water on the head of the baby. It is the event consecrating the child into the Church, the bride of Jesus Christ. In this sacrament, the Holy Spirit comes down to bless the child and usher the child’s entry to the Catholic family.

Aside from the grace accompanying this sacrament is the responsibility for the parents and the godparents to guide the child to grow into a faithful Christian.

However, I had seen that that truth did not sunk in to the hearts of the parents and other godparents because they are still in their teens. They are still immature, biologically and spiritually to the faith. It even baffled me why did the parents, who are both members of other religions, allowed their child to have a Catholic baptism. Yes, they are being prodded by the child’s grandmother but if you stand in your faith is strong enough then you will not allow your child to be baptized in other church. I have a feeling that everything for them is just “wala lang” (nothing) even in caring for their baby.

My second godchild came to me in a disappointing way, but I believe that God is giving me a responsibility and a chance to help this child grow pleasing in His eyes. A person worthy of His love. Because of this, I am taking her as a challenge. If her parents are not serious for her, then I am serious as his godfather. (So help me God).

Tying a Yellow Ribbon

I’ve never been a fan of Cory Aquino. I always disagree whenever the media give her an undue praise as if she was an immaculate person. Like what the media doing now that she died recently. Media agencies tend to gloss over her achievements and leave out those that may reveal her imperfections. I believe that what they are doing is wrong. Cory Aquino is as broken as we all are. Just focusing on her achievements doesn’t give justice to her memory that she left to all of us.

Yes, Cory stood up against the Marcoses and help in ending their tyranny. Her stand during the People Power Revolution paved the way for the return of the democracy in the country and kept the country from being transferred from one tyrant (Ferdinand Marcos) to another tyrants (Fidel Ramos and Juan Ponce Enrile about their failed coup d’etat). President Cory became the hope of the many Filipinos during those turbulent years and prevented a bloody event from happening.
Cory Aquino

However, those facts will never be enough to gloss over her misgivings. During her administration, her family and her clan received an undue advantage and power. The old cronies of the Marcoses were replaced by the new cronies and the old system continued. Her administration can brag of instituting the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, but her clan is also the one who disobeyed it. As of this moment, Hacienda Luisita is still at the hands of its landlords and the farmers are still working like slaves. It was also in her administration that many farmers were massacred in Mendiola.

What I truly admire with Cory Aquino is her strong faith. In my mind, I always associate the former president with praying. The reason for this is that she is the only president who always reminds the people of the power of prayer for all the problems that our country is facing. She always asks the Filipino people to not to forget God and ask for His help.

I admire her for this because she keeps on advocating the Faith even in the midst of the unbelieving world. Even if it is already taboo to the so-called intellectuals that castigated her for her belief in God. For her, God is everything that is even at the end of her life, she never ceased believing in God.

President Aquino is not a perfect person. Her presidency is also an imperfect one. And I hope that the media portray her as such. Our imperfections are not a thing to be ashamed of. It is a God who give us the grace of perfection and grant as the title of sainthood. The media and the public have no authority for such things.

I am no Cory fan and I did not believe her when she was alive – but I also join the great multitude of Filipino in tying the yellow ribbon in honor of her life. An imperfect but a valuable life.


P.S. I pray to God that He forgive all of Cory Aquino’s sins. May the Lord grant her entry to His heavenly kingdom. May also all the people that she hurt in any way forgive her and leave to God all her misgivings.