Saturday, September 11, 2010

It’s a Good Day to Be Filipino

I heard from the grapevine that a very close relative of mine has declared his intentions to change his citizenship because he has grown tired of the Philippine situation. I am no longer in speaking terms with this relative because of this but I understand where he’s coming from.

Life here has almost become an exercise in futility and I’m starting to feel the hopelessness of it all. It’s not just last month’s failed hostage crisis resolution that has brought about this depressing perspective. It’s really more because of the rare glimpse I’ve had of the common man on the street.

Up until recently, I had a 15 year old nanny who lived with us. She went missing for a night and a day and I found her in her boyfriend’s house. She chose to forgo both her education and employment for him.

The girl’s mother is all thumbs up at the situation. The boy’s mother and grandmother have resigned themselves to it as well but are actually more disturbed about it. In an attempt to dissuade the girl, they’ve opened up the family’s history books. The boy belongs to a family of four siblings, all adults, none of whom have finished high school even if they could have. They are all unemployed and spend their mornings playing illegal numbers games and their afternoons playing dodge ball with cousins who are also unemployed dropouts. In the evenings the two male siblings get drunk, break bottles on the streets and land punches on whoever it is they currently have relations with. The girl is unfazed. She just wants to be with her man.

My jaw is still stuck on the ground. I cannot believe that there are people who are willing to live lives expecting manna from heaven, sulfur-laced goods from hell or shit from the gutters of the earth to survive. I cannot believe that any sensible being would choose to live such an existence even if a better one is within reach. I cannot believe that there are people so disgraceful that even their mothers completely renounce them.

My husband assures me I’ve been a witness to something real but that I haven’t really seen all there is to it. What I’ve seen is just a micro sample of bigger communities where there is nothing sacred and people rot in pits of apathy.

Aquino vows he’d rid the system of corruption but if everyday, hundreds of children are taught by example that it’s okay to live unprincipled lives, to strive for nothing, to compromise right for wrong, to take the easy way out, then each and every year, this country will still be in the hands of people who don’t care about the country, the greater good or their own souls. Six years from now, when Aquino steps down, we might just end up where we first started.

It’s still a good day to be Filipino though simply because we are and now is no different than any other moment when some talented countryman manages to wave the flag a little higher than usual. We have to start believing and creating situations where it’s good to be us because no official document from another country or an extensive cosmetic enhancement can erase racial heritage. We share the same story regardless of citizenship or appearance and our story will haunt us to the ends of oblivion.

We don’t need Aquino to make a dent on corruption. What we really need is a hard, bloody smack on the collective consciousness. That’s not Aquino’s job. It’s ours.

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