I had lunch with friends at Happy Garden Café. The restaurant is part of Sunshine Place, an events venue for seniors in Makati. What a great concept. Pity that it is in Makati and I live all the way in Alabang.
I had cauliflower rice. Did you know that there is no rice in it at all? It is crunchy, tasty and apparently very good for you.
I missed the two-bit tour of the upper floors. They have a beauty salon and also offer massage, tai chi, Zumba and painting classes.
There were 15 of us. Our conversation was colorful and the laughter at times a bit raucous. We talked about food, travel and the benefits of compression stockings. We tried to get first dibs on our friend’s new Manhattan condo.
Yes, we discussed money laundering (we were after all on Jupiter Street) and, of course, the latest surveys. One lady suggested we hold mock elections. But the menu distracted us and it didn’t happen.
This was a group of successful, witty and very opinionated ladies and gentlemen, and a few feathers may have been ruffled. I must confess mine were, just a bit, not to the point of anger, but enough to pass up dessert.
What happened to us?
From the fast exchange of chatter over lunch, here are a few tidbits.
There were comments that the Senate hearings are too soft on the suspects and why. I don’t know about that. I have learned very little after hours of watching their theatrics on TV. Must be my age. Maybe I can’t handle the humongous figures.
About the elections, someone said that one candidate has P5 billion, to be unleashed on the day itself. Try to beat that!
Another lady announced that the voting machines have already been filled and that the winner has only to be proclaimed. Discouraging to say the least.
I heard someone say “We’ve had it with the straight path. It’s too tedious. It’s time for some crooked roads again.” It was all in jest.
But I am still struggling to understand why some of us have become so casual, almost dismissive about the ugliness and horror of corruption. Has it really become just a boring “same old, same old” story? Have we grown accustomed to the stench? Worse still, are we part of the system?
Why does it no longer shock anyone to hear about millions stolen, laundered, hidden or squandered? It is tragic that the old values of honor and decency are today objects of derision. Idealism has gone out of style.
Has corruption now become just a laughable indiscretion, a “hand in the cookie jar” kind of joke? Are we so jaded or are we just too sick and tired to be bothered? This is shameful.
Every morning, the newspaper comes up with my first cup of coffee. On the front page I see the number of days remaining until May 9, Election Day. The countdown today should say 22 more. We are so close. It makes me anxious.
Back in the day, we chose real leaders, statesmen, men and women with solid values who had a heart committed to our country and people. We had our own share of charlatans and nuisance pretenders. But no one took them seriously.
Should we worry about the results?
I have no doubt that all Filipinos want to choose the most qualified people for positions of leadership. I believe that our voters today are intelligent and discerning and will vote wisely. We must pray that they do. I also know they will be extra vigilant and not allow any shenanigans.
But will there still be talk about guns, goons and gold? Garci?
Are we counting chicks?
Surveys have been erratic lately. Should we believe what we read? They tell us that things are not quite what they seem. There is talk about a silent majority. I ask them to please speak up! Now. It does weird things to my blood pressure when they are quiet.
I wonder how the characters that today hog the headlines and all forms of media as they mouth their credentials no matter how dubious, and saturate the air with their promises, will take defeat. Sore losers get ugly, dangerous.
Remember what they say about Philippine elections. No one loses. Whoever does not make it will scream “fraud!” Re-counts and protests will follow. Sabers will rattle. Vengeance will rear its ugly head.
It worries me.
Perhaps we should worry more about how the winners will handle victory. Suddenly they will be breathing the rarified air of power. Will they conveniently forget what they promised and sit on their ornate thrones without another thought about the welfare of the Filipino?
The day is almost here. Some will call it the “moment of truth.” I don’t know if this exercise deserves such a noble title.
I hold my breath. My heart skips a beat. It won’t be long now, and we will see new (?) faces. We don’t know whose they will be.
All I know for sure is that I will miss that one honest face, with its unmistakable aura of integrity, of one who—for the past six years, despite our thoughtless abuse and ingratitude—has worked doggedly, firmly to take us to greater heights in the eyes of the whole world. God bless him.