I ask myself every time I see or read about the worsening pathological situation in which we see the nation today. Of course, I’m looking at everyone except myself. At 76, I could be beyond rage, as they say, “mellowed with age.”
The last time I saw rage, not just in me but numbers that could pass for a critical mass, it was when we couldn’t take one day more of the Erap presidency and had to spill out onto streets around the Edsa shrine to force him to leave, which in the end he did peaceably and humbly via the Pasig River behind the palace.
In the victorious frenzy, we forgot who his vice president was, and, as we all know now, we went from bad to worse.
Erap’s sins seem petty compared to what happened after him, and again now, there are unacceptable similarities between him and the new president, who, as soon as he could, liberated her from hospital arrest and possible jail term.
And if that wasn’t enough, he seemed in an inordinate hurry to bury the dictator Marcos in hallowed grounds.
Any of those could have triggered rage. But no rage came then and none now, not even after victims of extrajudicial killings numbering four thousand now. And don’t look at me, please. I may be a veteran of the people-power revolt—the original Edsa—but that was 30 years ago. I never imagined I’d ever have to work myself into a rage again this late in life.
Sixteen years ago I surprised even myself that I managed it against Erap. Now I can’t even muster a high fever, to save my life. A pity indeed, when it is precisely high fever that rids our body of deadly toxins and killer bacteria, and collective rage has always worked against plots against our democracy, fragile enough as it is.
Wise guys advise us seniors to avoid anything that could provoke rage. High blood pressure could kill us even before we could make it to the streets, where just about anyone could get killed nowadays by trigger-happy policemen psyched up by Duterte; in fact just last week two men suffered such fate most incredibly—it happened in jail at 4 a.m.
It’s safer, indeed, in social media, if only we could learn to work the technology in time. The only danger out there comes from Duterte’s trolls who have positioned themselves as electronic snipers, shooting down with the foulest language and threats anybody who criticizes or finds fault with him and his presidency.
But their attacks are never fatal, not directly in any case, so it may be the last safe place for people to vent their rage. We might even discover there are more of us than we think. The more, the safer, and bolder we will be. Courage, as they say, is contagious.
National rage on social media is our chance to show the world there are more Filipinos against than for extrajudicial killings. Most of us are, in fact, shamed by the president’s foul language and his un-statesmanlike behavior in formal international settings—he desecrates the national barong Tagalog, thus demeaning as well his counterpart’s adherence to proprieties in affairs of state.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Japanese, the sticklers for manners and imperial hierarchy that they are a matter of culture, kept Duterte from meeting their emperor to avoid risking the slightest disrespect to him from a decidedly unpredictable man who habitually cusses and likes to chew gum whatever the occasion and keep his hands suspiciously in his pockets.
I wonder if some, if not many, who voted for him are in fact rethinking their decision. I bet they never imagined it could come to this—not a few American and European businesses are pulling out and those staying are not thinking of expanding.
If only by coincidence, I’m told US visas are being denied and, if at all given, shortened to three months, seldom for the relatively generous 10 years.
Duterte’s behavior toward Americans and the rest of the West is almost pathological; not unlike an insensitive lover who wants out, he announces his breakup with the US, EU and UN on every international stage and at every opportunity, using bridge-burning language that will not allow reconciliation of any kind.
Whatever spell he cast on 16 million Filipinos should wear off eventually; I only hope it won’t be too late, not after he has done irreparable damage.
Federalism could be it. He apparently believes once it’s in place his job is done, and he can go back to Davao and live happily ever after.
He does seem uncomfortable in the presidency, and has dropped hints about leaving the presidency before his time. He sends a chilling signal every time he tells the military that, if anything happens to him, the nation’s fate falls in its hands.
Huh? Whatever happened to succession? Well, federalism is a new deal that does not accommodate a vice president, for one thing.
So much is being decided behind our backs without public debate or consultations and in partnership with communists and other enemies of the state and political dynasties, who to me are principally responsible for all the corruption and poverty around. And in such scheme of things, where, pray tell, do we the people find ourselves?
I don’t know about you, but I feel rage coming on.