Saturday, April 21, 2007

who deserves the evil eye?

HARD TO FACE a problem, indeed, when the problem is a politician's face in a prohibited campaign poster. In Cebu, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) might as well be seeing ghosts while rolling its eyeballs at the election litter all over.

Hair-raising, thus groans my recent column in the opinion page of Sun.Star Cebu (17 April 2007 issue) :

Zooming in on zombies

Horror wears a happy face. Worse, it’s sticking its tongue out at the Commission on Elections, leaving it dazed in the dark and in dire need of a sixth sense.

“There’s evidence all over, but no suspects in sight.” Thus declares the headline in one of this paper’s reports last Sunday.

About the abomination of campaign posters placed illegally, the report would have been more terrific (if not terrifying) to the tune of spine-crunching sound effects worthy of a whodunit.

Who’s giving Comelec a black eye? Who’s winking at the voters now besieged with photogenic attempts at peek-a-boo?

How to determine who really placed the posters is Comelec’s nightmare. “It’s difficult because a rival camp can paste the other’s posters illegally,” explains a Comelec officer.

Would there be a ghost of a chance for Comelec to exorcise the omnipresence of prohibited posters stuck on trees, along the streets and main thoroughfares, on bridges, public structures or buildings, electric posts or wires, schools, and shrines?

Are graveyards not included? There might be campaign posters stuck somewhere there, too. Not on someone else’s tombstone, hopefully.

Meanwhile, some candidates smile.

It’s a wonderful world, indeed, where the Comelec is facing a blank wall while searching for witnesses who’d dare look the devil in the eye.

Unless somebody complains and comes out in open “against those who place posters outside designated areas,” Comelec might as well be blind, deaf, and mute. No way it can prosecute, unless it gets lucky and catches someone flouting its regulations red-handed.

Mean and whiling away the leeway of the law, some candidates can only flaunt a prelude to their proclivity for sidestepping the line between right and wrong soon after they’re voted into power.

Dead malice, anyone?

In the face of these delinquent candidates with their helter-skelter hunger to be the apple of the electorate’s eyes, any voter worth his jaundice is pretty justified to see skulls and crossed bones instead.

Or, better yet, be imaginative enough to behold the errant posters as if Oscar Wilde were back from the graves with updated variations on The Picture of Dorian Gray. (In that novel, darkness was made visible in the image of the protagonist whose corruption left its hideous marks in his portrait.)

As much as we yearn to see politicians in a new light, sorry, there’s just no blinking away the enduring ubiquity of blight.

Bless, therefore, some vandals that voters ought to shake hands with. There’s beauty and grace in graffiti, yes, when these designers of disfigure would render an animated mural of clowns and circus freaks out of the faces from those posters. The more offensive, the better. Enough, yes, for Dracula’s laughter.

Friday, April 20, 2007

making no sense, making me smile

ONE WOULD SUPPOSE, considering the constant grimace about successive grim topics such as politics and the forthcoming elections in this blog, that it's a fashion style to wear my wrinkles on my forehead.

So when it seems like the remains of my hair and my cowlick are scraping on cobwebs and puncturing my thought balloons, it's such a relief to just shake the stress away with odds and ends of humor scoured along the way.

If the bottles are shaking after pounding your fist on the table to make a point in the face of your beer buddies, hereunder are handy quotables to quell the dissonance of reason and rigmarole in this election season when it looks like there's a conspiracy to make fools out of all of us. These hand-me-down quips, come to think of it, would be fine for grinning and bearing it all:

I was born intelligent; education ruined me.


Practice makes perfect, but nobody's perfect. So why practice?

Since light travels faster than sound, people appear bright until you hear them speak.


The more you learn, the more you know, The more you know, the more you forget.The more you forget, the less you know. So why learn?

(And, hey, wouldn't it be cool if after seeing shirts emblazoned with a candidate's callus-fortified face, all of us thirsting and hungry for honest-to-goodness elections would witness our piss-worthy politicians wearing that shirt up there instead of the kagalanggalang (kuno) Barong Tagalong and Amerikana suits if ever--God forbid--they'd be voted again and souse themselves once more in the froth of power?)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

banishing the boars

NO LESS THAN divine guidance. That's devoutly to be wished for us voters while many politicians go hell-bent to sweep us off our feet with their devil-may-care compulsion for the nation's cruxifixion. Here's my Lenten-themed column in the opinion page of Sun.Star Cebu (3 April 2007):

In the face of the faithless

When God granted free will to us Filipinos, did it seem like casting pearls before swine? Not if the outcome of the forthcoming elections, hopefully, wouldn’t again leave us heaving a sigh of whine until we’re fit to be tied, skewered, and roasted.

Now that not a few politicians impel us into pigging out on the slop of their self-aggrandizement, Lent does come in the nick of time to nudge us off the beaten track of the politically cynical and clueless.

In this year of the Fire Pig, will the elections—God forbid!—again leave us blood-curdled and curled over the coals?

Then again, no scenario is ever outlandish where the craven and the clowns take turn hogging our attention, unsettling enough to scare even our guardian angels to take absence without leave.

Sacred, our right of suffrage. But suffering fools gladly has been like a religion to us as we take the extra mile of masochism. Preferably on bended knees, yes. As if we’re out to prove—as if we don’t have a surplus of comic relief—that we are a nation of martyrs.

Consider and weep over how we continue to bear the cross brusquely hewn in the hands of self-styled redeemers.

Lest we lapse into the twilight zone of inertia once more, which is all some candidates need for us to fry in our own fat till we crackle under our skin, it’s about time we seize the day of our own deliverance. And that may be the closest thing we have to redemption by way of repentance.

Or else, there’s more hell to pay. So exhorts those who hold the candle in the face, crusted with callus, of our candidates.

Indeed, some priests have pushed their sphere of influence far into the fray of politics. A Catholic priest in Zamboanga City has resigned from the priesthood to run for mayor, and another man of the cloth is also seeking to be governor of Pampanga.

If we must burn, it better come from the fire in our belly along with the belief or leap of faith that we could still make an effing difference.

Thus the Cebu-based Dilaab Foundation (“a volunteer-driven movement for a transformed Filipino nation through heroic Christian citizenship”) sparks up its plug for us to take charge with its decision-making guide. Yes, so that we’d vote with the visionary light of LASER (Lifestyle, Action, Support, Election conduct, Reputation) and zap to zero the chances of undesirable or “anti-life” candidates with ill-gotten wealth and campaign money sourced from illegal drugs.

Also recently, Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales urged voters to choose for “green candidates” as the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) released the “Ten Commandments for Responsible Voting.”

Hopefully, this will influence the electorate on “what to ask and look for from candidates in terms of environmental record and platform.”

It’s about time we save ourselves. And spare the next balloting time from the usual suspects who want us to swallow the staleness of politics microwaved with this advertising adage: “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.”

way through the wilderness

IT'S A WILD, wild world. That's true, at least, in this kingdom where politicians reign.

Here's something to ponder--uttered by Lucy, the youngest of the four children in the magical but evil-plagued world in C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian (the 2nd book of The Chronicles of Narnia)--especially now that the most craven of candidates come to us like the proverbial sheeps in wolves' clothing:

Wouldn't it be dreadful if someday in our own world, at home, men started going wild inside, like the animals here, and still looked like men, so that you’d never know which were which?”

gospel truth beyond the garbage

ALL IT TAKES for a hellish experience in the heat of the Lenten season is to shiver through the spine while listening to the litter in the air stirred up by the elocution contest among election-starved candidates. Hear how they hope for us to believe their words were holy writ. That's the crux of my column in the opinion page of Sun.Star Cebu (27 March 2007):

Of politics and penitence

Even the devil knows how to quote the Bible, and so it’s not really farfetched for some politicians to wax penitential in the heat of Lent. You bet, religious frenzy would be a fashionable excuse for self-anointed saviors to wear holiness like oil in their hair.

Donning sackcloth and ash, as hypocrites in biblical times used to do, would be a tad unphotogenic for those born to be vainglorious. Aber, can you cite any candidate who doesn’t take the extra mile, with hell’s bells ringing up the road to popularity, just to stay high profile?
In the name of fame and fortune, yes, doing a Faust wouldn’t be futile.

Because they’ve got the flair for fizzing up their spit in the face of an audience, it’s likely they’d even give an arm in exchange for the chance to flail their hands to high heavens for the traditional staging of the Siete Palabras.

Or, if the less voluble of them would opt out of that public display of piety, there’s no fuss as long as it’s never overlooked and ought to be put on record that all that oratory comes courtesy of his generosity, thank you.

Then again, I wouldn’t mind, if their knack for sheer showmanship—preferably with full media coverage— would compel them to whip their backs with a stingray’s tail while walking on their knees under a spitfire sky. Cool, if the self-flagellant would also invite the voters to vent off their loathing and join in the lynching.

Hateful, I confess. Utterly un-Christian if we reckon our Catechism teacher in kindergarten who taught us “to love our enemies” even if she couldn’t stop herself from pinching us in the nape for not listening.

How to look at our politicians in a new light? That, whoa, is no less uphill than retracing the skull-littered path to Golgotha.

Instead of seeing any vote-starved pervert with a pyromaniac’s glower, the Dilaab Foundation ("a volunteer-driven, Church-based movement for a transformed Filipino nation through heroic Christian citizenship”) has offered a suggestion to “challenge the notion that elections are useless because many candidates have dubious motives in running for office.”

Instigated by Fr. Carmelo Diola, the foundation has urged the public not to vote for undesirable candidates by using a decision-making guide called LASER (Lifestyle. Action. Support. Election conduct. Reputation.) Beware of “anti-life” candidates with unexplained wealth or with campaign machinery oiled with money from illegal drugs by beaming up your LASER vision.

Or if you’re still rolling your eyeballs, thank God for this scrap of humor:

“An old couple had a son who was still living with them. They were a little worried owing to their son’s lack of career plans. Thus they decided to do a small test.

They took a wad of money, a Bible and a bottle of whiskey, and put these on the dining table. Then they hid, pretending they were not at home.

If the son took the money, he would be a businessman, if he took the Bible, he would be a priest; but if he took the bottle of whiskey, he would be a drunk.

In the nearby closet and peeping through the keyhole, they saw their son arrive at last. He read the note they had left him. He took the money, looked at it against the light, and slid it in his pocket. But after that, he took the Bible, flicked through it, and took it. Finally he grabbed the bottle, opened it, and took an appreciative whiff to check the quality. Then he left for his room, carrying all three items.
The father slapped his forehead and said, “Darn, it’s even worse than I could ever have imagined. Our son is going to be a politician!”

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

what it takes to be a man

CULLED FROM Soul On Ice, Eldrige Cleaver's autobiography:

"For being a man is the continuing battle of one's life, and one loses a bit of manhood with every stale compromise to the authority of any power in which one does not believe."-- Norman Mailer

"Song and dance are, perhaps, only a little less old than man himself. It is with his music and dance, the recreation through art of the rhythms suggested by and implicit in the tempo of his life and cultural environment, that man purges his soul of the tensions of daily strife and maintains his harmony in the universe.

In the increasingly mechanized, automated world--a cold, bodiless world of wheels, smooth plastic surfaces, tubes, pushbuttons, transistors, computers, jet propulsion, rockets to the moon, atomic energy--man's need for the affirmation of his biology has become that much more intense. He feels need for a clear definition of where his body ends and the machine begins..."