Friday, March 10, 2006

Blogged

This blog was visited by MLQ one of the few people I have profound respect for (which is why his blog is linked to this blog - I read him as often as I could) and naturally, MLQ being The MLQ, traffic here has multiplid algebraically. I am deeply honored. Thanks for the visit, Manolo.

Finally, someone with something else between his ears other than a cute face pointed it out: these are blog entries and people should stop reading too much into them. If I wanted to indulge in intellectual swash-buckling, I would write a piece on the Gloria Presidency and the Prices of Swamp Cabbages, and write my full name on it - all three first names, mind. Which is not to say I am telling people to shut up, merely telling people to stop hyperventilating and losing sleep tyring to analyze if I want to run for Senator or if I had sex last night simply because I wrote a letter for this blog, and then ask if I deserve the attention.

The link has resulted in a barrage of comments, three of which I will answer here.

1. Who is this Bong Austero?

This question has been asked many times in many discussion groups - sometimes in a fit of exasperation, sometimes in a condescending way as if I somehow breathed oxygen that had someone else's name on it, and every once in a while, in a nice way. The manner in which this question is asked determines the kind of answers I give.

MLQ does not remember me and I do not fault him for that, our interactions have been very casual and I was probably starstruck during those few times we actually got to talk. But we have a lot of common friends. The point I am making is this -there are people out there who actually knows who I am and who will easily tell you one thing: I can not be bought by anyone. Not even for sex (ehem), so definitely, not to peddle someone else's ideas. I may be dumb and reckless and impudent. But I can not be bought.

If a person's best shot is to accuse me of being a paid hack, or of being part of a Malacanang campaign, all I can say is this - that is a reflection of the character of the person who is making that accusation, not of mine.

I have said this before, and I will repeat it because it is true and I am proud of it: I am not even middle class. I am a child of a farmer and a public schoolteacher. I grew up in a third-class municipality in Leyte. I am a product of the public school system from Elementary, to High School, to College - all in Leyte. I was a student activist in College. I have a full-time job in the financial services sector, I teach in the evenings four times a week, and I sit in the board of some NGOs. My main advocacies are on HIV/AIDS, gender and sexual rights. I worked my way up from the bottom and I continue to do more than my share in nation building.

But then again, this whole sino ba itong Bong Austero na ito bit, is actually irrelevant to that letter. If we truly believe in democracy and freedom of expression, why should that matter?

2. Why comments to this blog have been on "moderated mode" since yesterday.

There are those who, in their haste to judge and pontificate, automatically assume the worst in people. Just because they have to undergo a minor process before they can exercise their so-called freedom to bash me in my own turf, they automatically cry suppression! Isn't that symptomatic of the way things are in this country?

This blog does not edit, ban, or reject comments from anyone. You can check. However, someone is trying to fix the template of this blog so that postings can be made more systematic and all that techno gobbledygook that I do not understand. That required putting the blog on moderated mode.

As MLQ puts it, blogs have their own "constituencies" so do not strain yourself analyzing the ratio of positive to negative comments in any blog. There are more worthwhile things to do.

Happy now?

3. Is this Bong Austero deserving of your time?

This question actually floored me down, threw me up the wall, and well, you get the drift.

Hello!!! I have been saying this many times: you guys are giving me more credit than I deserve. I wrote a letter, I posted it in my blog and sent to 20 of my closest friends, and it got forwarded to the world. I am not running for office, any office! I have a full time job and career. I have my hands full of papers and tests to check and grade. I never asked for your approval and have no need for it anyway. (But I do need a love life).

MLQ said it well and I quote: "people could tell they weren’t crafted for any other purpose than to express the author’s feelings."

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Open Letter seems to be saying:
1. I don’t care if GMA has cheated in the elections and stolen the Philippine Presidency. I voted for Raul Roco and that’s that. But it doesn’t matter if he was cheated. It’s actually all right to be cheated. I don’t care if I am cheated. If they can cheat, I can cheat too. In the first place, the accusation, that GMA cheated, has no evidence and has not been proven. The majority of the members of the House of Representatives cannot be wrong. They said the President did nothing wrong. She talked to an election officer. So what? Let’s just wait for the next election. If someone again cheats in the election, so what? Everyone is a cheat anyway. Let’s just accept that cheating in elections is a way of life. That’s it. I just want to go on with my life.

2. There are no moral leaders deserving support. After all, those who are out there in the streets have some moral flaws, somehow. Let’s leave morality alone. Let’s not moralize. Forget about morality. Morality gets us into trouble. These so-called moralists create traffic and disturbs the peace. I don’t care if I don’t have any sense of morality too. I can’t eat morality anyway.

3. GMA says she is the best and there’s no other alternative to her. Yes, it is absolutely true. None of the 80 million or so Filipinos can replace her. I totally agree, and I don’t really care. So probably we should have her as our President forever. I think that would be best. I am not a good leader. No Filipino is. I actually do not care as long as there is no traffic.

4. So what if GMA lies? So what if she is a lying President? So what if she said she will not run in the elections, and she did? Is it a crime to publicly and solemnly say one thing and do exactly the opposite? I’m not affected by it. I still have a job. I still receive my salary. I can still go to the movies. It won’t create traffic if she continues to lie.

5. These people out in the streets are crazy and have no right to be there. They disturb the peace. They create traffic. They create a bad image for the country. So what if they are just exercising their rights? They are disturbing me from commuting from home to my job. All they do is make noise. Forget about freedom of speech. I can’t eat it. I can’t feed my family with it. All you rallyist, I hope you all die and leave me in peace.

6. I don’t care if GMA used money intended for farmers to buy her votes. For all I care, these farmers can all die. So what if the money GMA used came from the taxes I paid. That’s not my concern. I’ll just cheat in my next tax payment. If I can’t, I’ll just accept that fact that my tax money will be misappropriated anyway.

7. Those politicians in the streets are out there because they have their own agenda. It doesn’t matter then if GMA has her own agenda. Isn’t she a politician too? In the Philippines, all politicians have their own agenda anyway. And so what? As long as I can go to the movies, drive my own car, listen to my music, send my children to school, and no traffic.

The Open Letter really opened my eyes. I thank the author and those who share his views. I think I really know what I should do when confronted again with the same scenarios as in the past weeks. I’ll be like the rest of the you, the silent majority.

manuelbuencamino said...

Don’t Be Angry, Get Smart

Dear Schubert Caesar Austero,

I am angry too. Really angry. And depressed. I hope this letter makes at least one of us feel better. It’s honest. It might be too frank at times, but we need to take stock of ourselves and the opposition.

We are facing a stubborn enemy. We have guns and the law at our disposal and yet our enemies won’t back down.

We tried to intimidate their press. We sent armed men to occupy their premises. We surrounded their buildings with “guards”, for their protection of course, but to no avail.

Our enemies smell our fear and it’s making them bolder. This is not the time to show weakness or lack of resolve on our part. We must
follow Mike Defensor’s lead and say we’re ready to shed blood to keep our leader in power.

The weekend of the EDSA 1 commemoration so shook me up, I had to go back and read the March 5, 2001 interview that Mike Arroyo granted Graphic magazine. I had to remind myself why and how we captured Malacañan. I needed Mr. Arroyo’s words.

He said, “I told myself: it’s now or never; if we lose here we’re totally destroyed and it’s goodbye to her political career - but if we
win here, she becomes President! So we really fought.”

And Atty. Arroyo reveals that his group was ready to shoot its way into Malacañan.

He said, “In every place where Erap loyalists had a force, we had a counter-force to face it, with orders to shoot. And not only in Metro
Manila. …. This was a fight to the finish… ”

Those words never fail to boost my spirits. It makes me feel confident, reassured that our leader will not go down without a fight.
Read the magazine. It will do you good.

Now, we have to do a little constructive self-criticism. We have to identify our shortcomings if we want to win this “fight to the
finish”. As Atty. Arroyo said in that interview, “Panalo kung panalo. Patay kung patay.”

I don’t know why you said we are prepared to experiment with authoritarianism to move this country forward only to turn around and
say we will stand up and fight when we feel our rights and our freedoms are imperiled.

Why did you try to disguise the fact that we want authoritarian rule but only under our leader? Let’s not be shy about our agenda. Shyness only makes us look weak and indecisive.

We shouldn’t whine either. We can’t cry about having to suffer immorality because the opposition does not offer us any alternatives.
That’s wimpy. And it only shows we are incapable of thinking for ourselves. It might even fuel speculation that we have some
deep-seated doubts about our leader.

Besides, the opposition will say if we’re really serious and sincere about looking for an alternative, we should look for it ourselves. And they would be right.

We can’t claim our leader has been working really hard to move the country forward and then not offer any evidence. We’re not paid
hacks.

Let me remind you that the opposition has been working very hard to substantiate their accusations against her.

EO 464 notwithstanding, they have evidence that the Fertilizer Funds were used to fund our leader’s campaign, that our people made money selling watered-down overpriced fertilizers to farmers, that the military was used in the election, and the ISAFP did the tapping on Garci’s phone.

In light of their solid accusations, it’s ridiculous to claim our leader is really working hard to move our country forward. Who do you
think people will blame for the country’s problems - those who perpetrated the anomalies or those who are investigating them? I know our leader is trying her best to shift the blame to the probers but are people listening or is she just preaching to the choir?

We could sell forgiviness if we know what our leader apologized for. But when Korina Sanchez asked her that question, she refused to
answer.

She’s not helping. It’s not easy to convince everyone to give our leader a blanket absolution when the opposition is insisting they
won’t until they’re sure she’s done with doing wrong.

What do you think? Do you think she’s done doing wrong ? Maybe it’s better to leave absolutions to bishops.

I also voted for Roco. But I voted for him because I liked him, not because I disliked the other candidates more. There are many people like me who don’t allow dislike to guide their choices. So I don’t think it’s a good idea to suggest to people that they stay with our leader because someone they dislike even more might take her place. That’s weak.

You could say, “I keep the faith burning in my heart that this country will finally pull itself out of the mess,” and I “work so hard to do
that”. But the opposition also says that. And they add they are not sabotaging the country because, despite being hosed and bludgeoned, they can still see very clearly that Mrs. Arroyo is not the State. Does that mean we don’t see very well?

I’m not so sure we’re on solid ground when we say the opposition “has tried to prove their accusations all these time and they have not
succeeded”.

The Senate Committee investigating the Fertilizer scam has mountains of evidence. So does the Senate Committee investigating the
involvement of the AFP in the 2004 elections and the tapping of Garci’s phone.

We could throw dirt at the probers but we can’t dispute their evidence. And how do we accuse upright and decent gentlemen like
Senators Magsaysay and Biazon of conducting hearings in aid of destabilization when we are not professional mudslingers?

Anyway, I was very happy when Mrs. Arroyo issued EO 464. That certainly brought those investigations to a screeching halt, didn’t
it? And just in the nick of time too because those investigations were beginning to make our leader look guilty.

But happy as I was about EO 464, I couldn’t help thinking, what if ? What if, maybe, there was someone in the Department of Agriculture or ISAFP who could have cleared our leader’s name? Unfortunately, we’ll never know because everybody in the Executive Branch, including possible exculpatory witnesses, was gagged by EO 464.

Now, to be perfectly honest with you, I was disgusted by your cheap shot at the opposition. We both know the opposition is not monolithic. Yet you accused all of them of treason, of participating in an unproven conspiracy between Magdalo and the communists. That was below the belt.

Why couldn’t you be honest? Why couldn’t you say that some, but not all, of the opposition were conspiring with the communists ? That would have made your treason charge credible.

The other cheap shot I want no part of is the demolition of Cory with accusations that she is consorting with Erap and the Marcoses. That might backfire on us .

Cory might remind people that our leader gave an oriental screen from the Malacañan collection to Mrs. Marcos on her birthday and gifted Estrada with a golf cart on his. And the opposition will certainly want to know if she spent public funds or her own money for those gifts. And people will conclude she’s the one who really wants to do the consorting.

Please don’t include me among those who say they prefer a flawed leader over scheming power hungry fools. I don’t want anybody to think I can only choose between those who will shit on me and fools who piss on themselves.

We can’t accuse the opposition of denying they are trying to bring down our leader. They are proud and loud about asking her to resign. That’s what made us so angry in the first place, right?

But being angry doesn’t give us the right to call them cowards. They stood up to Proclamation 1017 and the arrests and beatings that
followed. I hate to admit it but that showed courage.

Let’s just stay away from name-calling because the opposition might ask questions that can make our dear leader look cowardly.

For example, They can ask : Why did our leader lift Proclamation 1017 as soon as the “spineless and unreliable” opposition challenge it before the Supreme Court? Why did she tell her Solicitor General to argue “moot and academic” instead of ordering him to defend her proclamation?

As to our elected representatives, we can’t deny that oversight is part of their job. And we never told them, when we voted for
them, ” you can’t investigate our leader”. We can’t tell them that now.

Anyway, I’m sure that like me, you prefer independent investigations. We wouldn’t want Gen. Danny Lim to investigate himself
for attempted mutiny, would we ? So let’s not applaud our leader’s offers to investigate herself through her own Presidential Anti-Graft Commission. It makes us look silly. And hypocritical to boot.

And let’s not argue that the opposition is “more dangerous and a more serious threat” than our leader because we would be admitting she is also dangerous and a serious threat, only less. If people ask, “shouldn’t we also protect ourselves from her?” , we’re f**cked.

Now, I give a f**k who is in Malacañan because those who don’t give a f**k usually end up getting f**ked. I kid you not.

I’m depressed enough as it is. My support for our leader is “waning,waning”. And you didn’t tell me anything positive about her to
cheer me up. Instead, you chose to demolish the opposition.

Believe me when I tell you, it’s no good to make our leader appear tall by cutting off the legs of everyone around her. It spills so much
blood on the floor, it makes everything too bloody depressing.

Fight on !

Manuel Buencamino

Jon Limjap said...

If it's any consolation, I'd just like to tell you: take a bow. You've written something that hit the ires of the most rabid of pundits.

That means you wrote something that matters.

Mabuhay ka!

Anonymous said...

Both hogwash, assumptions and full of sarcasm.

Jed M. Eva III said...

I read your famous blog just yesterday, and read the various comments-- both those that agreed and disagreed with your post-- with great interest. If there's one reason your blog has made the rounds of thousands of inboxes, it's because it strikes a chord in every Filipino who's had enough with the unending drama that is Philippine politics. Count me as one of them.

I am pleasantly surprised by those who accuse you of being a GMA supporter, other than what you obviously are-- someone just really tired of the crap our country is in. They didn't do their homework (i.e., read your other blogs), or worse, didn't understand what you wrote in the first place.

If there's anything your blog-- and the reactions it got-- proves, it is the inability of many of our countrymen to accept opinions other than their own. It reflects how many Filipinos can't look at different perspectives in good faith. And it also exposes an annoying habit shared by the intelligent and dim alike-- the propensity to attack the advocate instead of sticking to the advocate's points.

I, too, share your frustration with our country's elected officials (to call them "leaders" is too generous). I, too, want a better tomorrow for our countrymen. We all may have our own ideas of how to achieve this, but I'm glad there are those like you who are saying what needs to be said-- and that what's being said is being read and heard.

Hopefully, everyone-- those in the left, the center, and the right; those in the administration and the opposition-- is listening.

just me said...

like i always said in my comments in pcij site everyone and all are the same and equal under the sun. i live in a country where the citizens are the nationals of all nations. from mongolia to uganda to tibet to russia to philippines to china to brazil to everywhere and we all get along together. one country. first world. very progressive. very democratic. freedoms abound. why? equality..

jesse uy said...

Hi!

I'm glad I found your blog. Your sentiments are really the sentiments of the great majority that are drowned by the noise of the few, thats why it created quite a stir. I printed some copies and distributed it too and of course most agree that they are in fact angry also.

thanks and good luck

jesse from iloilo

Francis Egenias said...

The most prolific poster, "Anonymous", ended his post with

"...I’ll be like the rest of the you, the silent majority."

One "famous" member of the silent majority is Tony Meloto, of Gawad Kalinga. Everything the "anti-GMA" forces are doing doesnt even come close to an iota of the accomplishments of Gawad Kalinga.

The silent majority has already realized that our country does not need a Moses "to lead us to the promised land." (Yet the opposition wants us "to return to Egypt!")

The silent majority has realized that our country has problems more urgent and more important than GMA's removal.

During the issue on the US bases in 1991 (I was for their removal) I could not appreciate the argument of the pro-US bases people that we should not be listening to the loud sounds of a noisy minority. Listening to the opposition now, I finally appreciated the argument.

OcaBayna said...

I know that you do not worry at all at the negative comments and attacks on your person. But I do because these people are like crabs trying to drag the whole coutry down. They are exactly why our country is in such a mess. Like you, I too am a recipient of nasty comments, one called me tarantado in his email.

As a middle class, I am glad to be part of your view.

eys said...

salamat sa blog mo at nagdebate ang mga tao.

sa mga comments kitang kita kung sino ang mga baluktot ang prinsipyo, ang mga matatalino, ang mga pilosopo, at ang mga makikitid ang utak.

The New York Times said...

Mrs. Arroyo is no Ferdinand Marcos, at least not yet. But this onetime reformer is reviving bad memories of crony corruption, presidential vote-rigging and intimidation of critical journalists. Unless the Philippine Congress and courts find ways to rein in her increasingly authoritarian tendencies, democracy itself may be in danger.