Wednesday, February 08, 2006


These few lines are just works in progress. I can't call them "thoughts" because they are part of bigger ideas that are percolating in my mind. So I call them "thunks." Maybe I will come up with bigger ideas based on them -

Dakilang tagapagkalinga
Saan man ika'y mapunta
Hirap iyong binabata
Pangarap mo'y ginhawa
Lahat na'y nilimot
Pati ligaya

I am thinking of writing an agit piece (where did that part of me go?), this time reflecting on the state of the Filipina - caregiver to the world. Not only does she have to struggle with less opportunities (families always giving preference to the boys), but along the way, she has to cope with privation, loneliness, and even death either as a contract worker or a contract worker's dependent. Then there is the usual double standard.

Of course, I also have a small cautionary statement in the end - something that goes like this:

Sa kabila ng iyong sakripisyo
'Wag sanang masilaw
Para lang maging banyaga
Ang iyong apelyido...

Truth of this matter is, some Filipinas pay back their sacrifices by considering themselves successful when they marry foreign husbands. I don't mean to generalize, as I do know very nice Fil-Foreign couples. But sometimes the highest aspirations of many of our countrywomen is to become foreign chattel (witness the growth of the mail-order bride industry in Mindanao and in the Visayas). An old oppression for a foreign one. Yes, at least one will be comfortable doing it. A monumental roll of the dice, and all things considered, values do get skewed in the face of really hard times.

Still, I am hard-pressed to believe that desperation overtakes plain, simple greed.

More on this, Insh'Allah, assuming I finish it.

* * * * *

Must you be bad so that you can be cool?

I had a recent rant on this and it goes back to my thoughts on life and relationships. People with more anima normally have this edge about them, this kind of knowing of having gotten through difficult times and survived. So our society goes about with its means of algesis, integrated into formal or informal rites of passage. You have the hazing rites for the Greek-letter organizations, the so-called "hell week" to break in froshes into the system, the collective oppression in ROTC.

Funny, but I always thought of these in moral terms. This moral "breaking" is more important than the physical one.

So back to my first statement - do you really have to bad to be cool?

Is it really cool to know the ins and outs of sex only to find that you have been jaded as to its purpose and its emotional content?

Is it really cool to get high on the latest drug and say, in the most bored manner, "I've done that, I've had better?"

Is it really cool to be on the opposite side of the law, or of authority?

Life IS really stacked with rules. I can understand why people would want to break free of them, just as Harry Haller talks about the decay resultant of the mediocrity of bourgeois society in Hermann Hesse's "Steppenwolf." So yeah, get rid of middle-class sensibility, let's all go to live as our more primal selves, primal being more true, and thus leading to the next stage.

Once, I thought like this. There comes a point, though, when all the rebellion can be so tiring.

Is being cool so desirable, then? Many people look at each individual, and oftentimes the mass dismisses those who conveys sensibility, preferring to recognize "the free, the savage, the untamable, the dangerous and strong." So, being bad can be cool. No matter that the progress that we have been accomplished along the principles of order, refinement, restraint, and logic.

My only fear is that many of today's youth, particularly in Western societies, feel a pressure to make something of themselves, and find no compass to guide the way. There is no challenge to be overcome, and all the ghosts have been dispersed by special effects and gimmickry.

So, instead of the edge being the means, gaining it becomes the end - a road that leads eventually to self-hate and mutilation. This mutilation does not have to be physical - sometimes the moral ones are even more deep-seated. I fear, many of our youth in the Philippines, even desperate to climb out of poverty, see the veneer of wealth first rather than the value of earning it. Privilege and status before probity and responsibility.

Hence, star-search reality shows and the "Wowowee" debacle. It was bound to happen, anyway, sooner or later.

"Rebel without a cause" does ring a damning accusation for our society. In this vacuum, the extremist, the rabble-rouser, the demagogue, the spin doctor will prey on us and leech from us our very lifeblood. Bush, bin Laden, Hamas, the Iranians, the ranks ranged with and against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are all faces and manifestations of this problem.

Without a cause, we are driven by the next person who dares to drive the bus, no matter that he be blind or does not know the way. Still we survive. Only God knows how long the host will last and eventually languish and die.

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