Saturday, October 20, 2007

And It Begins Again...

I wasn't born when martial law was declared. In fact, my eldest brother, who is four years and three months older than I am, was scarcely a year and a half when the infamous Plaza Miranda bomb went off. Finally, I'm not the most avid student of Philippine history.

All of these personal limitations notwithstanding, I cannot help but see the parallels between that bombing, which served as the advent for one of the darkest eras in Philippine history, and the latest alleged "terrorist" bombing which took place in the Glorietta Mall Area of Makati City.

The timing, for one thing, is extremely suspect, with the bombing coming just as clamor for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's resignation has begun anew in the wake of indignation of the ZTE telecommunications contract scandal.

The sudden appearance of a heretofore (mostly) unheard of "terrorist" group claiming responsibility for the bombing also seems pretty convenient, considering that none of the "big" players such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf have stepped forward. The group (the name of which escapes me) is either determined to milk some free publicity for itself or is basically a figment of somebody's imagination. I'm no bomb expert, but it seems to me that a bomb this meticulously placed seems like a job a wee bit too big for some two-bit group that hardly gets any front page ink.

Of course, aside from this declaration, everything else has been a series of denials and whodunits, with both the administration and the opposition acting true to character, the former pooh-poohing any involvement in the blast, and the latter saying pretty much what I hinted at
a couple of paragraphs above.

The sad thing is that, as much as I think the opposition, especially that guy Trillanes who shot his mouth off about about a government conspiracy, are really nothing more than a bunch of opportunistic hypocrites whose only genuine beef with the administration is that they're the ones raking in the big bucks, I cannot for the life of me dismiss this particular conspiracy theory, however little my opinion might matter.

Since the last time the opposition made it's last big push, I've had a little encounter with what I call, in a word, evil. I've seen what people are ready to do to hang onto their power, or to protect their interest, including throwing someone directly into the line of fire, figuratively speaking.

Of course, there's always the other school of thought that the people might have overlooked; that people like Trillanes, (or indirectly Trillanes himself) may have been responsible for the bombing for the sole purpose of discrediting the government, so that they could invoke images of martial law and stir up a "people power"-like sentiment. It may well explain why no credible admission of responsibility has surfaced; maybe whoever's responsible wants people to believe that the government did it, and is banking on the middle class' appetite for conspiracy theories.

And then of course there's the theory, albeit far-fetched, that no one really seems interested in: that this was all just an accident. Ayala, of course, wouldn't hear of it considering it would be a direct testimony to how safe their mall area really is.

Though there haven't exactly been any declarations of martial law or any constitutionally objectionable executive orders or presidential issuances since this occurrence, either contrary to or because of the strident rantings of activists and self-righteous media-men, that doesn't mean anyone is more comfortable with the situation. Try walking into Gateway from the walkway leading from the MRT and you'll know what I mean. Customers are let into the mall in two single-file lines while security guards "search" their bags for anything "suspicious." Of course, the agencies the malls have hired HAVE to be able to say their guards are tightening up their search, even though in reality they remain as perfunctory as ever.

If I recall correctly, a similarly stringent "security" system was in place at Glorietta, now known as Ground Zero.

Until it is determined that this is a bombing, and that there is someone, whether a terrorist group, the administration, or even the opposition, pushing an agenda through this act, there's only one real culprit to blame thus far: the Filipino's addiction to malls.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Who Exactly is Uneducated?

The brutalization of Filipinos by Hollywood and its personalities is actually nothing new, from our depiction as cute little savages in Return of the Jedi, to Tom Selleck's cook's Tagalog monologue in Her Alibi to Claire Danes' brutal comments about Manila while filming Brokedown Palace to just about any Rob Schneider movie you can think of. Even Tina Fey recently took a jab at President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's fashion sense in an episode of 30 Rock.

I think what makes the comments of Teri Hatcher's character in Desperate Housewives truly despicable and even more racist than any of the aforementioned jabs is how
they essentially belittle our professionals, who constitute, at the moment, our most prized export. I know people who break their backs here just to get their medical degrees and pass their board, whose achievements have just been belittled by an aging borderline has-been and the smart-alecky, creatively-challenged writer whose dialogue she regurgitated. I mean, what kind of asshole resorts to racism for laughs these days, after what happened with Michael Richards?

It seems clear to me that there was a directive among the writers to come up with a third world country for that "clever little line." I can just imagine them thinking of what third world country would be least likely to kick up a fuss with the remark. "Why not the Philippines?" I can just imagine someone saying or thinking. "The people there worship us anyway."

As far as I'm concerned, though, that we were the object of yet another dig from those pricks at Hollywood is only half of what's objectionable; my problem is that Hollywood, and America, in general, should really stop taking cracks at the intelligence quotient of other cultures, considering their own track record in the last several years.

For one thing, this is the country that elected George W. Bush their President twice in a row. If people will bellyache that he cheated, well, they were still stupid enough to let it slide because he's approaching the last year of his term in office and there hasn't even been so much as an impeachment case filed against him.

In relation to that, these complete and utter morons let Bush and his cronies trick them into believing in a war that is without any justification, and, which, unbelievably, some of them still support to this day.

Moving on from their politics, let's look at Hollywood itself. In any given year, the highest grossing movies churned out by Hollywood are sequels, remakes, sequels to remakes, or the latest member of the species, "reboots." Most of the dreck polluting movie screens these days aren't even the products of screenwriters' original ideas anymore, they're derived from everything to books, comic books, TV shows, toylines, and now video games, the single most creatively bankrupt form of storytelling imaginable, especially considering that most video games rip off their plots from movies!

And let's not forget TV, where the offensive utterance occurred. American TV is now dominated by "reality" shows which seem to get progressively worse with each new show launched.

Finally, there is the Americans' fascination with rich, stupid people like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Britney Spears, all of whom they've managed to make rich in one way or another.

Come to think of it, Americans are some of the stupidest people on the face of the earth, when one weighs the sum total of everything they've done in the last ten years alone and as such I don't think they're in any position to cast aspersions on the quality of education in anyone else's country. You people are supposed to be smart, right? How is it a chimpanzee has been running your country for nearly eight years now?

I don't actually watch Desperate Housewives, and am now glad I don't, but I seriously hope the writers, producers and cast of that piece of primetime garbage have, at the very least, to endure a whole world of grief for that little indiscretion, which was completely uncalled for and unabashedly racist.
I wouldn't even mind if the show got cancelled, so Teri Hatcher can go back to being a has-been, except now she can be a racist has-been. She and Michael Richards can form a club.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


This is my blog, and as such is a venue for me write about pretty much anything I want, no matter how detached from the concerns of society at large. It's my online diary, where I get to share anything from my views on politics to my thoughts on my hobbies, or, if I want to, what my toenail dirt looks like. I carry no social responsibility for the things I say here (for as long as I don't write anything libelous, I guess), and any "relevant" posts I happen to write are not saddled with any sense of obligation, but just because I want to write about them.

Catholic priests, I believe, are different.

I go to mass just about everyday (ironically enough, except for Saturday and Sunday). It's how I prefer to spend my lunch break. I hear mass at the EDSA shrine, spending every noon and early afternoon in a nice, air-conditioned chapel hearing mass while glancing at a wall painting depicting the Filipino's one truly shining moment in world history, which has long since lost any real meaning.

I've come to know the priests a little; there are about four or five of them who rotate, and of course, what makes any priest unique is the sermons he gives.

Some of them give pleasant, uplifting sermons, one of them gives barely comprehensible sermons considering he mumbles his English and cannot speak proper Tagalog (making me wonder exactly what province he's from), and one of them, the object of my ire in this post, gives some of the most condescending, cornball, and, dare I say it...inane homilies it is my displeasure to have to hear. If I could only be sure they had regular schedules I'd know to avoid this git, but unfortunately they shuffle them every week.

I wouldn't have written this but for the fact that last Tuesday, the chaos in Burma was weighing heavily on my mind (being splashed all over the news and all), when this priest gave his homily. He mentioned that Tuesday was the feast day of guardian angels, which was well and good, and started off with one of his ridiculous, forced "turn to the person next to you and..." and then talked about guardian angels in terms of how they look or don't look ("they don't all look like Marimar. Do you watch Marimar?") and how gossiping neighbors are not exactly angels.

It was at this point that I literally walked out of the church. I had wanted to pay my phone bill, and decided that was the perfect time to do it. I go to church for upliftment, not to have my stomach turned.

While I'm not the biggest fan of pontificating priests (even though they're the people for whom the word was coined), I recognize that, considering they have captive audiences, priests carry some form of responsibility to their flock. I would think that part of their service to God is calling for the prayers of their faithful for worthy causes, like the fight for democracy in Burma as a good, recent example.

When priests only dabble in "current affairs" when it's to comment on our own political circus here in the Philippines, they basically betray how parochially-minded they are and even reveal their own irrelevance in the grand scheme of things. What, do the monks in Burma not merit any mention because they're not Christians? I certainly hope this isn't the case.

The local Catholic Church looked like literal-minded fools when they were unduly agitated by the widely acknowledged work of fiction, The Da Vinci Code. The movie has come and gone, and the Church is still standing, so it would appear that all of the hullabaloo was for nothing at all. Priests like this idiot don't help things by showing how detached they are from things that matter in this world.

I'm glad I never became a priest. Aside from the more obvious reasons, (poverty, chastity, etc.), I feel I don't think I could bear the social responsibility they inevitably must carry as spiritual leaders of their communities.

But as for the men who choose to bear this mantle, they should realize that the spirits of the faithful do not exist in a vacuum. Even the Bible says it's not enough to just pray and profess one's love for God; faith is a way of life, not just a belief, and caring about other people's plight, to the extent of doing something about it, is an integral part of that way of life. Priests should encourage people to be socially conscious, if not necessarily activist in their orientation.

People say that one of the biggest problems of the Filipino of late is his apathy. That may be partly true, and I submit that one possible reason for this is that maybe not enough priests are telling people about the numerous outrages being perpetrated in this world day after day.

There is fear that the Church, as an institution is losing its relevancy. Well, if they do, I think that at the rate some of their priests are going, they will have no one but themselves to blame.