Here We Go Again

(The following is my column for today, July 10, 2006 at the op-ed section of the Manila Standard Today)

THE national torture of having to put up with self-proclaimed patriots who mouth all kinds of incendiary statements in the name of love of country has once again begun.

These are days when one cannot help but wish there is a way to vanish all these loudmouths from the national consciousness so that we can all focus on doing what we are supposed to be doing individually to make this country a better place. Unfortunately, these people are relentless in foisting themselves and their causes and prescriptions on us. They take out full-page ads in newspapers, call press conferences, and make themselves readily available to every available microphone and journalist of media establishments who, unfortunately, have made it their policy to stoke the fires of controversies in order to stay ahead of the ratings game.

Many among us have learned to take these in stride. We give them two minutes of our time, take a long deep sigh, mutter “politics as usual” and go on with our lives. Many among us have become numb and immune to the endless bickering and have become more and more disenchanted with the whole process. We silently wish and pray that these people would just shut up. But these people would not let us be. When their antics do not produce their preferred reactions from us, they call us apathetic and uncaring. Worse, they bewail our inability to see the righteousness of their cause and come very, very close to calling us immoral and stupid.

And yet, they claim to be doing all these for our sakes. They say they speak for us. They trundle conclusions and generalizations about having our widespread support, conveniently labeling us as the “people.”

So here we are again back at the same place and saddled with the same issues that we all know cannot be resolved no matter how loudly we all scream at the streets, no matter how many times we pontificate on television, or how many pages of ads we take out in the papers.

Here we are again with an impeachment complaint that has no hope of getting through Congress and certainly no hope of getting widespread support, thanks to the efforts to turn the process in its head and reduce it to a media circus. And yet, here we are again with the griping and the sourgraping when at the outset, it has already been clear that the numbers are simply not enough.

Here we are again with the statements and the homilies and the pastoral letters and the manifestoes and the self-righteous posturing of the self-proclaimed prophets whose pronouncements made headlines in the past but have all failed to galvanize public support and produce results.

But yes, just in case the message has not gotten through yet, we get it. WE GET IT! We are not dumb. Nor are we stupid. Our country is in deep trouble. The government and the opposition and the civic groups and everyone out there do not have to write the message in neon lights and shove it in our faces because we live through the difficulties every day. Many among us do not know where the next meal will be coming from or whether we’ll still have jobs tomorrow. We know. We do know, all right?

And just because we do not rage against it does not mean we do not care. We do care. In fact, we care enough, and that is why many among us do not add our voices to the national Tower of Babel anymore.

But if people do care enough, why the absence of widespread support for the causes being bandied about? The reason for this is simple. We are deeply cynical of everyone. We do not trust anyone— not the president, not the government, not the senators and congressmen, not the local officials, not the clergy, and certainly not the opposition and the civic groups. It is a tragic fact, but it is a fact that we all have to acknowledge. When everyone is screaming at you and bludgeoning you with his own version of the truth, you just want to retreat into the comforts of your own private space. In our eyes, pare-pareho lang kayo!

Everyone seems to have the perfect prescription to make things work, but nobody is listening to anyone else. Everyone is so convinced of the righteousness of his or her proposed course of action that it seems everyone else who disagrees or does not lend support is automatically an enemy. We remain deeply fragmented and we continue to indulge in this national pastime of blamestorming, passing on the blame to everyone else except ourselves for our inability to resolve our problems and get out of the rut. We are still at it, imposing our own myopic and shortsighted views about what and who is the real problem. And when someone and some groups actually provide a more strategic option that tries to situate the problems into a more strategic perspective, we shoot it down by calling them names and attacking them personally.

So here we are again, back to where we started last year.

It seems we have not learned any lesson at all. And by the looks of it, the cycle will continue until there is nothing left to fight for anymore.

And we wonder why we are in a rut?

And we blame the people for the mess?


Anonymous said…
As long as the opposition continues to pretend; that this exercise of democracy called impeachment will not be used as a political leverage on their bid for re-election then they're just wasting the people's money on futility.
Anonymous said…
Tired, tired, tired; fed up, fed up, fed up. It's becoming an exercise in futility and stupidity. Another all-too familiar case of the noisy, obsessed and embittered few who annoyingly want to inflict themselves on the rest of us who have real lives to go on with.
Anonymous said…
When I saw that full-page ad on Saturday's paper, I muttered aloud, as if talking to that short woman with the fake streak in her hair, "Go ahead, you do it. Me? I have lab worksheets to correct and a lecture to prepare after cleaning the fridge and tons of other Mom-work. Good luck, have fun, you well-funded, no-need-to-work woman with the easy access to media."
You're still very right Bong, as right as when you published your very first outburst. I am tired, of this old issue and old tactics with no useful productive end in sight.
I'd rather spend my energy to prepare my quiz and long exam questions, correct another batch of lab worksheets, prepare my paper for a workshop, start on my portion of the syllabus my team is writing, cook up that research proposal on a biofuel source, and do my mommy duties. I am apathetic, am I not? But I wonder who contributes more to this blighted country, myself or that woman with the streak?
Will somebody tell her to quit the streak and replace it with a multicolored wig. Yeah, like the ones clowns wear.
Gandang araw, Bong.
Jego said…
Here we are again with an impeachment complaint that has no hope of getting through Congress and certainly no hope of getting widespread support...

I never figured you for a defeatist. Sure the politicos are jumping on it and turning it into a circus but we still have to have faith in the system. You once expressed faith in the Congressmen. Call up that faith now and use your new-found clout to see to it that it gets through. This impeachment has to go through for all our sakes.
Anonymous said…
I just hope all of them (opposition, administration and the CLERGY!) will read and UNDERSTAND your column. We do. Pareho-pareho lang sila!
Anonymous said…
Just watch out for the slogans of Cayetano, Escudero, Remulla and their likes in the senate too when election day comes. The things people do just to get elected tsk, tsk.
BongA said…
jego: i have faith in the system which is why i am ranting against those who bastardize it. take note that the administration congressment have not weighed in yet on the issue, and yet escudero et al are already all over the place making all kinds of analysis, predictions, prophecies, etc. they are the ones making the case, and yet the are also the ones trying it, and judging it, even before congress has officially opened. note also that many people are now taking a more strategic view of the problem, which i have been advocating in this blog since february. our problems can not just be about GMA. our problems are beyond the impeachment. the sooner people realize that, the better for all.

BongA said…
Mommy jo, last I heard, she was rehearsing "If We Hold On Together" as a last-ditch effort rally the Hyatt10 to stay with the cause.

BongA said…
anonymous(es): right on! thanks for the visit and the comments.
Jego said…
our problems can not just be about GMA. our problems are beyond the impeachment. the sooner people realize that, the better for all.

Agreed. I was about to say, "That goes without saying," but unfortunately, it seems that it doesnt. We have to say it repeatedly just to remind ourselves and others. As for the administration congressmen not weighing in on the issue, I assure you, they have, and are toeing the party line as expected. But yes, the proper venue for this debate is Congress, not the media. And this can only happen if we go through with the impeachment process. Unfortunately there will be those who, as anonymous #1 said, will use it for selfish ends, but that's the system we have to work with. It is up to us citizens to convince our representatives of the wisdom of our position. We have to convince them first before we let them speak for us. That's only fair. Perhaps you wrote the words "no hope of getting through Congress and certainly no hope of getting widespread support" in a fit of frustration, and I dont blame you. But this isnt your first open letter anymore. Like it or not, youre somebody now, and defeatist words like that won't inspire your students and your fans. We have to keep believing and keep hoping.

More power.
I'd like to know where you’re coming from -

What was your initial reaction to the Garci tapes when it was first made public?
What was your reaction to Gloria’s apology?
Did you, at the time, believe that people who listened/heard the tapes and decided Gloria had to resign or be impeached were jumping to conclusions?
Did you make a personal judgment on Gloria even before everyone started to create all the noise that you abhor?
Where did you stand even before the first impachment was filed ?
jef said…
I will rather embrace APATHY than to be counted as one of those bleeding hearts. We have a SURPLUS of saints in this country, I really wonder why were in hell.

Great post Sir Bong. I only hope that martians will zap these oppositions away...
benign0 said…
The rut we are in is a hole we dug for ourselves. The issues that hobble the Philippines' prospects for prosperity is far deeper than politics. Yet all of the "solutions" we seem to be able of coming up with are predominantly political in nature and futhered by politiicians with political agendas.

The sad fact is that most prosperous societies are underpinned by layers upon layers of profound philosophical capital -- something that the Philippines does not have. We are only a shell of a functioning society. Beneath the veneer of the shrink-wrapped democracy that we practice is nothing more than our native tribal heritage.

Our society can be likened to the barbarian hordes overrunning Europe in the dark ages forced to live like a 20th Century society whilst skipping centuries of accumulation of robust cultural capital.

So like it or not, trying to rebuild our democracy around the philosophical void of Pinoy society is like piecing together an egg shell after having eaten its contents.
BongA said…
Jego: no, i did not write that line out of frustration, but in recognition of what i think is realistic given the current climate of cynicism and mistrust. the impeachment process is a political exercise and they simply do not have the numbers. it doesn't help that the tack the proponents are taking has turned off a number of people. to my mind, there is no point in pinning our hopes on a process that is doomed to begin with. we can rant and whine and make lupasay about the unfairness of it all, or we can be mature about it. my position on the impeachment is similar to the one of OneVoice and in a rare moment of coincidence, with the bishops: let the people decide on May 2007. In the meantime, we can focus our energies on more strategic issues such as making sure that the 2007 elections is clean and honest and in offering a better alternative on the issue of charter change. others may think this is a cop out, i dont; i think it is strategic: to win the war, you need to pick your battles.

Mr Austero for the sake of transperency please anaswer the questions I posed above
BongA said…
jef: let's not rely on the martians. let's do it ourselves. hahaha.

Anonymous said…
Haaay manuel doon sa kongreso marami kang mahuhuling malalaking isda hindi sa forum na ito. Pandaka pygmea lang si bonga hehehe kaya dun ka na lang mag-fishing expedition.
alden said…
I m pro impeachment and I also wanted a clean 2007 election to happen. I believe this two is very doable....multitasking you know. File the impeachment orderly anbd debate with it soberly and if they dont have the numbers then so be it. That it done. At least constitution was followed.

Along side the filing of impeaching the president, we shoudl also be working for electoral reforms...Wlang problema dito.

Ang kaso ang nangyari ngayon mas binigyan ng sobra sobrang focus yung impeachment. At nabayaan na ang electoral reforms. At mukahng bubulagain na lang tayo ng Election 2007 na hindi masyadong napaghanda at hindi naayos ang problema na nakita natin noong nakarang eleksyon. Ang pakiramdam ko kay masyadong maingay ang impeachment lao na yung oppsoition kasi alam nila na wala nman talga rin silang ibubuga in a fair in honest eleksyon eh. Mas malaki ang tsansa nila kung na overthrow is Gloria eh....On teh other hand ang daministrasyon naman ay wla ring halos ginagawa towards a electroal reforms. Kasi they are vey much on the advantage without electoral reforms eh.

So pinaglalaruan lang tayo ng magakabilang panig eh. And worst they continue to fool themselves that we are not aware of it...

Kaya ako Id rather go with the "Silent Revolution" Silent nalang pagdating sa politika ang just go on with improving myself and do whatever I can do to help some of our kabayans in my very personal capacity.
alden said…
Ay buti naman Bong di mo na pinatulan pa si buencamino....but let him post for as long as he wants though....
Boondock Queen said…
Huh?! Really?! An impeachment?! Huh?! No!! Again?! Why?! Jeeeesuuuzzzzz Christ!! I've slept too long!
BongA said…
mr buencamino: you may think the world of yourself and your opinions, but i am not accountable to you. you do not have to agree with me nor do you have to like me. i am very very surprised that you are actually trying to "know" where I am coming from now. why? you didn't seem to have that problem before when you made judgments about the kind of person I am and called me names in this and other blogs. so let's just agree to disagree.

Mr. Austero
BongA said…
boondock queen: go back to sleep if you still can. it might be the better alternative. hehehe.



good to hear from you again. clean elections is also possible even without government support. citizens can ensure clean elections on their own. but i think it would be a fatal mistake if the govt thinks that the 2007 elections can be tampered with given the kind of attention people are bound to give it. that is why i think it is a better and more strategic option. let the people decide - all the people.

I just wanted to hear from you. Okay I respect your privacy.
alden said…
Mr Buencamino,

Sana kasama sa pag respeto mo ng privacy ng tao, yung pagrespeto mo na rin sa conviction nila kahit salungat pa yun sa paniniwala mo. You called these people so many names, most recently sa MLQ blog, you called Jojo Robles as "Robeless", and you commented negatively about Mr Doronillas "mental state" simply because you dont agree with what they wrote.
Anonymous said…
Mr. Buencamino,

Instead of asking questions that would lead us far from the real problems of this country. Can you please try to find a solution to this oil crisis? Please!

And to mommyjo. I admire what your doing.
Anonymous said…
While your in C5 try to observe the difference when your in the taguig side and crossing over to the pasig area. In taguig, there are more squatters, garbage, beer gardens and less paved roads. Its quite the opposite once you've crossed the brigde going to pasig. Does the congressman from taguig have any plans? Speak up Cayetano!

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