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Not Quite There

Taking a break while ahead

By: - Columnist
/ 05:33 AM October 21, 2018

I can’t wait to take another break—this time to the US. I wasted many years figuring out the perfect time to drop everything and get away from it all, thus missing out travel chances with Vergel when we were not as old.

There’s no such moment, I’m afraid. Planning a getaway is a leap of faith at any age, but more so now when we don’t know how we’ll feel tomorrow. Best to just do it! Travel promos help make things happen more easily for us.

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There will always be as many reasons to go as there are to stay. Who can really know when it’s the right time to do anything, anyway? My guess is the right time for anything, as late as it is, is now, and attending too many wakes lately is one forceful argument.

One, the most recent, was that for my daughter’s classmate, and another that for the husband of a college classmate of mine. Today I just found out a 15-year-old grandnephew of mine died in his sleep, in Houston. So many young people jumping the line! Meanwhile, we celebrated an uncle’s 98th birthday. As each guest said goodbye to him after the lunch, he told them to be sure to be around for his celebration next year.

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Our break will coincide with the midterm US elections. I have been there at those times before and observed that the occasion was never disruptive of everyday life as here. It’s a crucial one for the Democrats if they must stop Trump. Even if I’m not as emotionally involved in American politics as I used to be, I still care—the resonance is simply too much.

I’ve always been a Democrat at heart since the Kennedy era, when my young family lived in the Republican state of Texas. We came back before we could become affluent enough to turn Republican, like many other Filipinos who have stayed on.

It’s almost uncanny, but Trump and Duterte have a lot in common, although I’ve always felt we had some kind of kid-sister karma with our former colonizers. Notice how our presidents seem to match: Arroyo and Bush, Noynoy and Obama, Duterte and Trump. The difference lies in the quality of their institutions: Regardless of who’s president, they continue to function for the American people.

Fragile

My husband tells me our institutions never got really established, and, therefore, have remained fragile, because the environment never itself developed into a suitable one for them. It’s tempting all the same to lay all the blame on Duterte, but that would give him too much credit.

But I would definitely give him and no one else credit for confusing me, for leaving me with more questions than answers, and it’s not for lack of talking on his part; problem is he just blabs on and on. And when finally he says something in a language I can understand, something invariably offensive, it is softened by explanation or translation differently, not seldom as a mere joke. The President’s ex-spokesperson himself confessed to being confused, which is precisely why he is now an ex-spokesperson.

Duterte and company are obviously toying with us, confusing us with lies, taking us from one fake crisis to another, distracting us with side attractions away from the main show, which is, as everybody should have known by now, to stay in power and escape accountability for corruption, murder and treason, among other crimes.

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Things, indeed, seemed going for them until recently—when they tried to remove Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. They had succeeded with Sen. Leila de Lima and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.  Even the amendment to the Constitution Gloria Arroyo tried to sneak in was exposed and stopped, for now at least. Once grasping at straws, I now see signs of the tide turning—at last!

If I didn’t believe in a higher force I’d be tempted to give credit to Trillanes or some rare good judge or the reluctance of the military to support anything that runs afoul of the Constitution. That is not, of course, to belittle the effort of human forces that come together for the public good at a crucial time, and a spark of extra-human intervention.

Dad kept telling me about those telltale signs of a nearing end in the figurative narrative he liked. “When one organ fails you, it’s okay, because you still have the support of all the other healthy organs. But when your organs start shutting down one by one, as though in a conspiracy against you, they’ve gotten their orders from the Grim Reaper, and it’s over, kiddo!”

I don’t need to know more. They can keep the man’s true physical condition from us; it doesn’t make him any healthier.

Meantime, for our own general health and happiness, Vergel and I are happily off for abroad in our favorite season—autumn.

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