The President of the Philippines dropped by Dammam last night, the last leg of her journey here in Saudi Arabia to shore up whatever support she has among OFWs as well as to work on some face-saving diplomacy. Oil discounts and promise of buffer stocks were negotiated, as well as pardon for over 200 condemned prisoners and runaway maids.
I can't help but say that she has succeeded. For good or for ill, she will stay in the saddle until 2010. Amid the clang of bells and the thundering of "righteous" anger, she has survived the vicissitudes of being a plurality President. She has staggered and has almost been unhorsed, but she soldiers on. I can't help but say BRAVO without any bitterness.
I cannot, however, abide the smugness of many of her supporters who conveniently gloss over her faults in search of "pragmatism," that her being an economist is the salve to "fix" whatever ails the Philippine economy. Before they crow about her success in turning things around, it hasn't exactly been her program that has driven such growth. One of my batchmates conveniently pointed out that the bull run in the Philippine Stock Exchange has been going on for the past three years. Hard to believe, maybe, as PSE's charts at http://www.pse.com.ph/ only go back for two years but he says that you can look up Philippines (PHI) at bigcharts.com - and one can conclude that there is a high run-up if PLDT is used as the surrogate indicator of Philippine stocks.
Speculation hovers about the war in Iraq as the start of such growth, as money once pumped into traditional investment markets now looks for second-tier markets such as the Philippines.
However, stripped of the fancy slogans and the proud drum-beating and self-preening of this administration, it is that success was reached despite the administration's utter lack of charisma, PR bungling, and consumer-oppressive policies. Or that this success is still being fueled by us, the exiles. She rightfully should court our support. Her continued stay in power depends on it.
Her policies, just like that of any President before her since Edsa, has served to deepen and widen the gap between rich and poor. Before she and her supporters claim to sleep the sleep of the just, let them think of primary causes.
Before her opponents continue with the cycle of blame, let them think of who are the real victims.
Rights don't mean a thing on an empty stomach. Economic progress means little if the poor don't share in it. And I don't mean just dole-outs or remittances - I mean for real, like having jobs and opportunities that help them escape the povery trap.
Until then, let no one claim "the sleep of the just" for in the clenches of poverty there can be no true justice.
The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration. ~ Pearl S. Buck
Meditation XVII by John Donne
from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions
Nunc lento sonitu dicunt, morieris. Now this bell tolling softly for another, says to me, Thou must die.
Perchance he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me and see my state may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that the church is catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all.
When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that head which is my head too, and ingrafted into the body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.
As therefore the bell that rings a sermon calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all; but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness. There was a contention as far as a suit (in which piety and dignity, religion and estimation, were mingled) which of the religious orders should ring to prayers first in the morning; and it was determined that they should ring first that rose earliest.
If we understand aright the dignity of this bell that tolls for our evening prayer, we would be glad to make it ours by rising early, in that application, that it might be ours as well as his whose indeed it is. The bell doth toll for him that thinks it doth; and though it intermit again, yet from that minute that that occasion wrought upon him, he is united to God. Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? but who takes off his eye from a comet when that breaks out? Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this world?
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Neither can we call this a begging of misery or a borrowing of misery, as though we are not miserable enough of ourselves but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbors. Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did; for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction.
If a man carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current moneys, his treasure will not defray him as he travels. Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels as gold in a mine and be of no use to him; but this bell that tells me of his affliction digs out and applies that gold to me, if by this consideration of another's dangers I take mine own into contemplation and so secure myself by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.