Dear Ms. Mayuga,
Just read through your column and realized that you do take the time and effort to sieve through e-mails.
First off, thank you – we are small, insignificant people compared to titans of industry, mega-celebrities and the vociferous throng (both the well-heeled and unshod) that trooped to Makati the other day for that (obviously anti-GMA) “Inter-Faith Rally.” But we trust that even our small and distant voice will still be heard and, hopefully, considered for whatever it’s worth.
FIRST, THE TRUTHS…
We support President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
I know that by this statement alone, a number of distasteful images would have been conjured up immediately by people whose life work it is to ensure that our President is toppled, tried, tarred and feathered at all costs (hopefully not by you). A veritable cesspool of all that’s been branded corrupt, malfeasant and evil in our society today has been attributed to our President and her cohorts. The same has been thrown at her supporters (willy-nilly ascribing the same detestable traits to such characters as Abalos, Garcillano, Gonzalez and, lest we forget, JDV). The oft-repeated refrain: PGMA’s “remaining” supporters are either paid hacks, apologists OR utterly corrupt/ corrupted themselves and therefore, should be given neither time nor effort to be listened to.
Well, I am a Probinsyanong Pinoy. I may not have the same clout as Jun Lozada, but surely, our Constitution ensures that even my small voice is heard. I have not had the chance of working for any paid government position or the chance to serve in any elected position. From time to time, as a representative of the NGO or the Private Sector, I have been invited to sit in a variety of Local Government Councils and Committees, volunteering free time to help out in matters ranging from tourism to peace and order, project monitoring and blood services.
And, except for those few instances when we were invited by the DepEd to lecture on Journalism, Leadership, etc. to Elementary and High School Students (and paid a small honorarium), I have received no remuneration from government, neither this one nor its predecessors.
To cut it short, it has all come down to this: There will always be people diametrically opposed to anything and everything PGMA and her administration stand for. That TRUTH is held to be self-evident and as such, beyond contestation. The “Inter-Faith Rally” is proof positive of this. But allow me, if you will, to offer this TRUTH as well: There will likewise always be people (upright or otherwise) supportive of PGMA and her administration with or without any check, money transfer or “commission” from the general direction of Malacañang. There will always be people, rightly or wrongly, who will continue to believe in the program of government she has laid down. There will always be people who will love (and not merely apologize for) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Count me in that column of people who do feel that she is still our best chance at freeing the country from the poverty, both of means and of spirit, that has gripped us since Day One of our Republic. I need not rattle out the tremendous achievements, both economic and social, her administration has accomplished over these past seven years. These hard facts, genuine data, TRUTHS have all been published, debated and praised (yet, still vilified by her critics).
But much closer to the heart, we support President Gloria because for the very first time in our 110-year history as a nation, a sitting President actually listened and catered to the real, genuine and immediate needs of the provinces and the Local Governments, fixing much of the mess the past four Presidencies left behind.
I live in far-away Basilan, Madame. I doubt if you’ve ever been to my place. There isn’t much to see, really, for city-folks like you. But I live in a proud community of brave and resilient individuals. And as much as we have our own scandals and political noise here, we have to stick to our guns most of the time, gritting our teeth as each political storm blows over Manila, not knowing who the next leader would be when we wake up to Unang Hirit or Umagang Kay Ganda the morning after… we are voiceless here.
And many simple folks in Cebu, Davao, Zamboanga del Sur, Baguio, Samar, Iloilo, Negros, Sulu, Sultan Kudarat, Batanes and Tawi-Tawi feel pretty much the same way. President Gloria’s administration has moved heaven and earth to make my place a much safer, much better place to live in.
In case your readers didn’t know, Basilan has always been a part of the Philippine Republic. But pray tell me, why were all three Ro-Ro ports, all our major national highways, spanking new barangay halls, health and daycare centers, bridges, and municipal/city halls built up only starting 2002? What were all the other Presidents doing…yes, all 13 of them who preceded her?
Madame, we don’t ask much from government…nasanay na kami sa kawalang-bahala ng Maynila sa mga hinaing namin. (We’ve gotten used to Manila’s indifference to our plaints.) Even PGMA, we know, gave too little, some say too late. But she delivered, whereas the ones before her simply took. Marcos took away our peace of mind. Cory took away our lands. FVR took away our safety nets. Erap took away our dignity. Lozada asked (with a malicious smile on his face), where the US$1.8 BILLION loaned by the Government last year all went? Does he know the answer to his own question? (Or is he just blowing bubbles for everyone to gape and stare at, awestruck because the question came from him?) If he doesn’t, we can give him a tour of the provinces and he will have his answer staring back at him with the full verity of stone and concrete.
Suffice it to say that we believe in President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s leadership. And we will continue to support her until her term ends in 2010. Now, to argue whether those who have the same opinions and convictions as I do actually constitute the majority (albeit ‘silent’) is a question that cannot be answered fully unless we ask each and every Filipino out there. Having said this, however, even I personally believe that a clear majority of the people are now against our President.
If there’s one thing she’s a total failure in, it’s her ability to convince people that she is who we, her supporters, think she really is – a hardworking, no nonsense, diligent and intelligent President who means well. And we would not want to presume to know the reasons why they chose to go that way. Biased media (although not all media to be sure) may have had a hand in it. Be that as it may, we fully respect their choice, one way or the other.
But what we’re trying to drive at is this: We choose to believe her. And what the Constitution and all the laws of the land demands from all of us is to respect the opinions of everyone in the body politic – right, wrong, majority, minority, rich, poor, powerful, invisible … everyone. “We the people” is not limited to those who espouse change or reform only. “We the people” includes everyone else who says otherwise, perhaps preferring the status quo.
And that is what the Constitution is there for – to protect the rights and opinions of ALL FILIPINOS. That includes the minority (doesn’t matter how ‘deluded’ and ‘dense’ the majority may think it is) from the will (I won’t even venture to call it a ‘tyranny’) of the majority, just as much as it ensures that the majority is properly heard and eventually followed. Constitutional processes are there precisely because our framers wished that the minority (no matter how numerically insignificant) is given the same treatment as the majority citizens of the Republic. This is a truth as well.
If the logic is (and this does seem to be more and more pervasive of late) that since 100,000 residents of Metro-Manila and nearby provinces (therefore “a clear representation of the great majority of people in the Philippines”) have congregated in Makati’s main thoroughfare demanding her resignation or ouster, therefore everything that government stands for – all its institutions and establishments, corporations, agencies, forces and bureaus, services and commissions, authorities and departments – should stop in their tracks, step back and let this 100,000 pass through unimpeded, all the way to Malacañang to install a new Chief Executive…That, Madame, is just plain wrong.
Shout they may all they like. Scream even. But the final day of reckoning is still the 2nd Monday of May 2010.
FINALLY, THE HALF-TRUTHS AND LIES…
As many as 100,000 people have chosen to believe Jun Lozada’s “truths.” We vehemently choose not to. We believe that he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, exuding an aura of divine protection given no doubt by a phalanx of nuns and a gaggle of Bishops. We believe that he’s lying through his teeth and his eyes simply could not fake it well enough. His dramatic performance was made for the Oscars. Quite ironic, too, that one your e-mail writers complained about seeing the Oscars instead of the Senate hearings on free TV, when they are all made out of the same cloth – That’s Entertainment!
And the script stinks so much of the same formulaic offerings that made Sharon Cuneta a household name in the Philippines. There’s the evil, bitchy, matapobre contravida (in the very familiar mold of Cherie Gil, Jean Garcia, Princess Punzalan, Pilar Pilapil, Bella Flores) whose only purpose in life, it seems, is to make hambalos the next hampaslupa or patay-gutom that crawls her way. Then there’s the lowly bida – Sharon Cuneta, Julie Vega, Janice de Belen, Judy Ann Santos – and, true to form, Erap and FPJ whose on-screen lives have been known to make gapang in the lusak before the inevitable showdown (a la Bituing Walang Ningning a.k.a. “HARAPAN”). Then the gulong ng palad starts working its wonders – to a happily-ever-after final episode where the evil bitch is finally taught the true meaning of “Bukas Luluhod ang mga Tala!”
Sound eerily familiar? It’s all the same vaudeville/telenovela repeated over and over and over again, and everybody’s gripped by a powerful tragicomic melodrama horror-sci fi musical (admittedly an almost exclusively Filipino movie genre) unfolding before our very eyes on Primetime News, forced down our throats by a most willing (read: biased) TV network. The stupendous ensemble cast is primped and readied; the dialogues (and monologues) rehearsed to death, the lights on, the cameras rolling – and action!
After all the dust has settled and the smoke cleared, if the television “heroes” are finally victorious, who benefits most from all this? The Filipino people? Philippine Democracy? Our Constitution?
Come to think of it, the only one laughing all the way to the bank would be this gigantic media-utilities empire whose proxy will finally be proclaimed President of the Republic of the Philippines! Talk about baking your cake and eating all of it, too.
If the opposition politicians, the coup plotters, the communists, the students, the clergy, the media and the members of civil society think they’re going to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven after shouting their throats hoarse in every street corner and flogging themselves for some divine intervention to rain fire and brimstone over Malacañang, think again. You are all ripe for a rude awakening.
Oh, don’t you just love liars? They’re sooo…sneaky.
Jaime J. A. Rivera
Jaime J.A. Rivera, a fourth generation member of the Alano Clan of Basilan, is the Secretary General/Executive Director of the Juan S. Alano Corporation in Isabela City. He also belongs to the Basilan Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Inc., with Micro, Small and Medium Entrepreneurs of Basilan “constituting 95% of our membership.” The BCCI is affiliated with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (PCCI) led by the Presidential Adviser Donald Dee.