Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Poetic justice -

In The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand writes a scene where a reporter, Ellsworth Toohey, comes face to face with the hero (and his own self-named mortal enemy) Howard Roark. Toohey has just bashed Roark in the papers and even on radio. Since the novel was written before the advent of television, if we were to put it in perspective, Toohey would have used this platform to slam Roark and his work (for non-Ayn Rand fans, Roark is an iconoclast architect reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright). Ditto for the Internet.

Toohey speaks to Roark:
We're alone. Why don't you tell me what you think of me.

Roark deadpans: But I don't think of you.

In this piece today, I am reminded that people often listen to the people whom they feel share their views, and most audiences are already pre-disposed to agree with a speaker they like. Classic example is this: why would an ordinary person stay tuned in to a speech of a politician he doesn't support? One easy test is the degeneration of news commentary to sound bites. It's easier to get a rise out of people with these statements.

I still am a big fan of Conrad de Quiros. When I was younger and only the Manila Bulletin (still called Bulletin Today at the time) was the staple fare in our house, I lapped up the columns of Joe Guevarra (who at some point must have been the paragon of "envelopmental journalism") and Jess Bigornia (who sometimes made more sense). It made me think then, shoot, writing is easy, these hacks could pull it off and get paid handsomely for it.

With the onset of the Yellow Fever and the eventual unshackling of the press, we switched to the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Star and at once I became a disciple of the Big Man, Louie Beltran (I wonder to this day how he, Art Borjal, and Max Soliven could co-exist. Good times all around). Then the honeymoon with Cory Aquino ended and journalists had found new homes with the growth of the free press.

Eventually it was the Daily Globe for me, and it was through this now-defunct broadsheet (it morphed to TODAY, and now the Manila Standard TODAY) that I had my first encounter with Conrad de Quiros. He wielded the pen (figuratively) like a master swordsman - a clinical slasher at times, piercing and cutting to the quick, and then a consummate artist during others, sublime and thought-provoking. Or a combination of both.

Up to this day, I rue the day I did not follow through on the journalistic career path. Well, I pretty much ruined my own life choices by my own doing back then. Even so, while I am not a journalist, I have grown up to be a writer in my own right, albeit not commercially. (By the way, it doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to write, just a whole lot of time)

Meantime, De Quiros remains one of my favorites, though at times he suffers from what I call "constipation." He does need to let go once in a while, and write pieces like this one to which I am linking. As to his take on the high comedy that is otherwise known as Philippine politics, I am with him and so many others in spirit but share little in his approach.

I believe he has actually turned off a number of his fans who have soured up on his obessesion with PGMA. True, she represents a far more insidious evil than any politician in the past twenty years (she wouldn't stand up to Marcos in a heartbeat, but at least that man had charisma and a far greater understanding of what makes Filipinos tick). But the issue has eluded resolution, and until there is some form of resolution, any more helpings of it would jam up anyone's craw. There is only so much fire and brimstone that one can digest.

Anyway, Conrad de Quiros still rocks.

For my own part, I wonder really if there is SOMEONE OUT THERE who reads these thoughts, and then remarks to himself or herself, "Hey, this dude has something good going over here." I teach some high school kids the finer points of the use of the language, and to this day I hold true to my belief that random ramblings, however deeply inspired, don't take much skill, and as such are third-rate. This maxim guides most of the writing in this blog . . . still, I am not writing this for therapy. I am writing this in the hope of reaching an audience, and I do hope in some way, somebody is touched by what I am saying. It may be tough reading, because I do write in a constipated fashion at times.

Else ...

Well I am compelled to write anyway. It's good to keep on wondering anyhow.

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