Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Traditional Election Spread

Been getting emails asking what I thought of the coming (May) presidential elections. I sort of dithered, asking do I have to? (think about it, that is), one of the main reasons being that though there were so many candidates (99 who wanted to be president), 99% were uninteresting. If you’ve been born bored as I was, there’s no greater bane than uninteresting.

So finally, this week, when the inquiring emails reached a ridiculous 350, I took a look.

And decided I like the platform of Sen. Jamby Madrigal. Access it and read at her website – She seems to be engaged in a wide spectrum of concerns – from LRT long-lines to fisherfolks, to the Visiting Forces Agreement (she’s against it) and the Magna Carta of Women. Many women politician get to power by (re)molding themselves to symbolize the male traditional view of how a woman should be (as in non-controversial and malleable) and thus de-genderize themselves in the process, becoming a conduit for conservatism. Sen. Madrigal seems to have escaped this; seems, indeed, to have made it a point to buck this feudal-patriarchal system.

I say “seems” because I’ve never met her, don’t know her but must say I like her oomph and am sorry that she does not have as widespread support as she deserves.

Of the three principal candidates – Noynoy Aquino, Manny Villar and Gilbert Teodoro –I can’t seem to find anything new or exciting. Joseph Estrada one must discount, as there are no second acts in the Philippines, unlike the US.

Gilbert Teodoro suffers from the legacy of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but despite that seems articulate and rational. Well-mannered, one must say.

Of Noynoy Aquino, just about all I say is that he's NOT likely to precipitate a Constitutional crisis to extend or maintain his power. Matter of family legacy. His father died for the 1935 constitution and his mother promulgated the 1987 constitution.

Not sure I can say the same for Manny Villar, who’s spending the peso equivalent of fistfuls of dollars to make it to the presidency, welding an unlikely alliance of right to left, making one wonder as to what his core values are…kind of indicating a monomania … It seems to me – seems again, as I’ve not met any of these protagonists and merely follow their pronouncements and actions through media – that Villar would not be one to hesitate were he to deem a constitutional crisis necessary to maintain, extend, enhance his powers.

That’s not an easy thought for someone who lived under martial law or has had to respond to many maneuvers of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her followers to maintain, extend, enhance her/their power this past decade.

A country whose constitution is constantly threatened does NOT have even an iota of security.

As for the rest, let me say right off the bat that I won’t even consider anyone backed by organized religion, religious sects, etc. The principle of separation of church and state was a hard-won one, through revolts, uprisings, revolutions, through centuries. Throwing it away simply because it is easier to live by dogma than to think and be responsible for one’s actions is just not my cup of tea – or coffee, preferably Jamaica Blue Mountain.

So we come to the final question: will I – should I -- endorse Jamby Madrigal? Hmmm, never endorsed any candidate before; nor am I sure it will do her much good but sure, why not, yes – on principle, based on her platform. -- #

Friday, February 19, 2010

Punk Rocker

Thought the only unconventional one in my entire clan was moi -- until niece Kat Rosca Taylor showed up and showed me. Only daughter of my younger sister, she does heavy metal cum punk rock, writes lyrics and is the lead vocalist and sole female in a band called Saydie -- which she pronounces Sehdi but which I keep (mis)pronouncing as "say die" -- as in say what? Click on\saydiemusic, if you dare.

Friday, February 05, 2010

A Birthday, An Anniversary & The End of Days

Fortunately, at 6 pm, some establishments fire up the quasi-torches at their walkways. If perchance, you left your lighter, you can stand on tiptoe and light your cigarette by torch fire. Which is what I did one early evening, to the scandalized glances of passers-by. It is useless waiting for the next cig addict so you can beg for a light. There are none, this being Hawaii which seems to have hit upon a most efficacious way to get rid of smokers. On my first day here, I was happily puffing along a walkway when a security guard yelled: “There’s no smoking from here to the curb!” Meaning, step on to the street so a car can flatten you.

This is one reason I’m usually morose over the prospect of being here. An erstwhile friend snapped last year when I was preparing to leave, “yeah, we’re sorry you’re spending a month in Hawaii!”

Couldn’t tell her that the sea’s so vast, the horizon too far, the sun too sharp – all on a daily basis -- I end up feeling suicidal. Everything seems to say “yehey, that’s the way it is; nothing to do about it.” I become so stressed out I walk three hours every day.

There are, some residents assure me, trade-offs versus life in NY; people may be in one another's pockets over here but the relationship is closer, warmer. Too close maybe as to take for granted an abusive co-dependency. When a building guard started talking to me about myself, I began to really miss NY, where equal opportunity gossips are shunned, like a sinning Amish. One resident said, “sorry, there are no boundaries here.” I became paranoid, fearful that this stranger on a bicycle would stop and ask me questions about my life. Or that guy in flipflops. Or the cook at the corner diner.

In any case, ahead of the POTUS, I arrived here to a birthday cake (Photo A), which I was assured cost more than my actual birthday gift. So, minus three or four thin slices which were given away, I ate the whole thing, reserving for last the placard with the chocolate Happy Birthday. I suppose that meant that I would “disappear” last my being an activist. Or that I will fight to the bitter end for chocolate. I also got a bunch of flowers (Photo B). But no lei. Apropos of which, on my return trip, when I told a La Guardia Airport porter where I had come from, he shouted: “And did you get leid?” Cracked himself up. Minus $5 from your tip, you scandalous New Yorker.

Shortly after the birthday cake came a different birthday, commemorated with a statement, the 41st of its kind. One paragraph gingerly endorsed Sen. Manny Villar as “the most nationalist” of the presidential candidates. Hmmm. That gives Villar the most consolidated and most disciplined electoral machinery.

Ditto Bongbong Marcos.

Acid Reflux.

To make matters worse, this laconic doctor framed his laconic diagnosis in this laconic manner: best-case scenario -- “if the infection reaches the prosthesis, the leg could be lost;” worst-case scenario -- “this germ is lethal.” My hair, all 24 inches of it, stood on end and stayed that way for the five days of treatment. Not mine; I was merely pretend-home-health-caregiver. In the end, though, I became the proud parent of a surgery scar. Laconic doctor was good.

I watched New Year’s fireworks from a 25th floor lanai alone and thought of 40 years ago. If the progressive vote base is 3,000,000 -- that would average out to 75,000 “turned” per year. The population is 92 million and assuming10 per cent or 9 million adherents would suffice for radical change, that would mean 6 million more or 80 years additional. At zero population growth.

Math can be so depressing. Can someone point to a hidden exponential trend somewhere in the equation?

When I finally made it back to NYC, the Great Bear Hunter, Guapo, welcomed me with a catch (Photo C), trading it for five macadamia nuts.

And how was your End of Days? -- #