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ORO, PLATA, MATA: On the PDAF Mega-Scandal (Part 2)

August 21, 2013

If Chad Osorio had written his piece in the 1960s it wouldn’t be much of an issue, because the idea of lavish celebrations was, and still is, universally accepted. To give perspective, I’d say there were issues worse than “taxpayers’ money being used” during this period:

  • the low wages and overworking of the sugar workers, on which the sugar barons made a fortune;
  • the existence of large haciendas for sugar and other agricultural products, which limited land that can be used for subsistence agriculture, hence the farmers had much less to eat even if they harvested the crop;
  • the existence of private armies of the oligarchs; and
  • the tight feudalization of democratic politics, which prevented any changes in the state of a province or city.

These involved actual deaths of people in certain cases, and the oligarchs held large parties whilst these things were happening. Few were angry, though everyone WAS aware. Nowadays, you simply hit some guy for defending Jeane Napoles and call him a tacky fashion photographer, and everything is OK for you.

They call that kind of ignorance a "lifestyle bubble". Like that bubble where everyone believes that Filipinos are "righteous-enough" people.

They call that kind of ignorance a “lifestyle bubble”. Like that bubble where everyone believes that Filipinos are “righteous-enough” people.

If you really wanted change, you could have refrained from attacking people and clamored instead for a societal change. In the past, it was difficult: you were branded a McCarthy blotch of Red if you criticised the workings of the corruption industry, and then they’d set the soldier hounds on you to tear you to pieces. Nowadays though, you could simply be one Efren Penaflorida, making a small effort to improve the lives of those around you. But no, your claim to activism is that you simply hit some guy for defending Jeane Napoles and called him a tacky fashion photographer.

I am saying that we’re like those guerrillas who have lost their reason and, in the end, just enrich ourselves at the expense of people who we perceived to be thieves (maybe they were, but in despoiling them we become thieves ourselves). If it’s still not clear, watch the movie in the part where the guerrillas treat their captives like slaves, and sate themselves with alcohol or whatever in their base in the city.

You see, this is the full realization of what Trining (in the movie) says in the end.

“The war has made all of us animals.”

It is the war on corruption that has made us all animals. Sadly. We haven’t even started winning these battles.

Let me tell all of you what we must do, even though we already know what to do. We saw Bianca Gonzalez’ tweet about informal settlers, and now this. Clearly, we know what to do. We just go back on ourselves every freakin’ time.

"A discerning society should care [and] point out a criticism [and] bring the issue to an honest public debate".   The paragraph immediately after this line was some sort of emotionalist harangue. Oh, the irony.

“A discerning society should care [and] point out a criticism [and] bring the issue to an honest public debate”.
The paragraph immediately after this line was some sort of emotionalist harangue. Oh, the irony.

We must push the government to implement the change we want to see. We must use the time between elections to convince people that we should vote for certain candidates and not others, using issues that matter to everyone. Enough of the “Vote Wisely” ads. People think about whom to vote, we just lack the arguments and the issues to convince them.

We must have a vision of what we want to see in this country, and move toward it, slowly but surely. We must plan, and plan well, and plan ahead. We must undergo the process of self-criticism, retribution, and repentance. We must ask the hard questions – not of others, but of ourselves, as a country with a longstanding culture of corruption, crony capitalism, emotionalism, and antiquated methods of doing things. Arguments like “So how are you related to them?” are not only incredibly ironic, but also, well, tacky.

That, right there.

That, right there.

We must ask our society why it allows for these things – are they necessary for the survival of this society? If not, why retain these things in our culture? We must further ask if there is a way to develop society further, to improve civic involvement.

There are so many things we can do, now that we are on the Internet. If we’re truly concerned about the Philippines, maybe we must start shaping its ideological and civic future. Attend the march against PDAF abuses, sign petitions, have honest and wholesome discussions on blogs, go Efren, even just be a good teacher to your students. There are SO MANY things we can do, compared with the so many things we can not do.

It’s ironic that I might finally ask that you agree with one of the most inane comments on both pages, which I screen-capped for my own writing pleasure. With some modifications, of course, but it hits the spot so well. Let me explain. In the movie, the problem with the manservants who turned guerrillas was that, when they were forced to live together with the rich people, they glimpsed more of their lifestyle. This led them to be so envious, that they forgot that these rich people were kind to them anyway.

If these people became envious of the rich people who were kind to them, eventually turning against them, it would be much easier for us to be indignant about the Napoleses’ displayed wealth. But that is not required of us: what IS required of us is the vigilance to net, punish, and prevent corruption in all forms. If you think on the real issue, it shouldn’t even matter whether Janet flaunts her wealth. It does matter that she has illegally-acquired wealth, but the fact that we think this flaunting adds insult to injury is a symptom that we’ve been reading Lifestyle a little too much.

Some of you might say, “But it’s shameless posturing! Surely we have the right to be indignant at that?” Janet Napoles might be rich, but after all, she has stained her hands. Her very activities are already THE shameless thing she did. These must have shocked us so much more than her daughter’s flaunting of their wealth. But no, we opted to not only just vent our anger on Jeane Napoles, but to also attack those who defend her careless posting of pictures on Facebook – that long lifestyle section which does not cease with the photos. It kinda blurs our resolve to seek the truth.

Maybe we Filipinos need to watch the news more, and read the showbiz and lifestyle section – on Facebook – less.

I'm going to say this advice, though incomplete, is right for all of us.

I’m going to say this advice, though incomplete, is right for all of us.

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