Saturday, July 10, 2010

New Philippines is "business as usual". A conversation with an Ilustrado

Let me say my piece and I will do it this once.

Why is it that we always blame the ordinary Pinoys, especially the poor for all our troubles? When floods come, media blames the poor for throwing their trash in esteros and waterways. When soil erosion occurs and tons of loose soil fall upon shanties below, government officials blame shanty dwellers. And when heavy traffic occurs along EDSA, everyone blames the volume of cars and pedestrians in the streets.

Why is it always us?

I was prompted to write this after a conversation with a young Ilustrado, trying to become a Katipunero. He mistook me for someone else.

He thinks I want to be part of this government. He thinks that I am impatient and want nothing more than a slice of the power pie. And he thinks that by being so, I will be able to get money out of the change enterprise.

He's mistaken. I do not intend to be part of any government. Fact is, I want nothing less than change this government, from one full of hyberboles to one that is truly representative of the people. From a government that tries to portray being "new" when it acts like its predecessor, to one that it TOTALLY NEW.

In all my life, I have sacrificed for the sake of my brother Pinoy. My life has been threatened and I nearly lost it in several occasions just for the service to the Motherland.

I have been harassed, bullied into perceived submission, cursed, criticized from my "rants", even accused of something which I did not do.

I have offered my life, my future and whatever is left in my pockets, in the service of my fellow Filipino. Had I pursued the easy way and just concentrated on my career, I probably am a rich and filty millionaire by this time.

I give money to those in need and help them by giving them clothes, food and other stuffs and this is the first time that I will reveal this. It costs me more than an arm and a leg, even at the point that I lost money for baby food, but its nothing. I always think that I am still better situated than these people I help.

I went out of my way and even put the lives of my family in danger when I swam those floods during Typhoon Ondoy just to save some lives in Mandaluyong and Pasig. I did that because my heart grieves for my fellow man. I tell nary a soul except now.

But, no. Those who know me personally, knows my true condition. I am poor. Yes, I have a car, but it is still not fully paid. And yes, I live in a condominium, but it is smaller than any other shanty in the Metro, plus, I live among hundreds even thousands of cockroaches, who spoil my food and always remind me of their existence by crawling over my clothes, my TV even my computer screen.

I have a family, yes, and I provide for their subsistence from the salary I get from my job. I work diligently and honestly each and every day. Like the rest of humanity, I drive myself to work, with just 200 or 300 pesos worth of diesel every single day and eat 50 peso meals.

My savings and current accounts have been emptied out of my desire to help more desperate souls lurking around me. My wife knows that I give whatever I have in my pockets to help Jun, the newspaper vendor in Dela Rosa street, " Susan", the young lady who is being abused almost every day by security guards and construction workers and several others whom I will not name here, for the sake of their families.

Whatever service contracts I get, I give my very best to my clients, even at the point that I don't earn a single cent. I exceed their expectations and it is enough for me that I get a smile in return.

I always get the job position I want because of my qualifications. From a lowly journalist, I was able to get myself to managerial and AVP positions due to my diligence and hard work. I did not have any backers. I hate backers. It is better that I back somebody up, those who approach me for jobs, instead of me, getting a job through a backer.

When I started my career, I underwent extreme hardships. I got my newswriter job after a gruelling auditions which saw at least 300 people lining up and hoping like I was, to be an employee of GMA Channel 7. I got myself managerial positions some when several headhunters approached me and most, I got through passing those hard examinations and interviews. I was able to work abroad when the president of the company based in Singapore learned of my resume and directly hired me out of some 750 applicants.

It pains me though, to be accused of trying to get myself a job in this administration. Fact is, I was even the one who recommended to a friend that we continue our engagement with this administration through private initiatives, never formally integrating ourselves with this government. For I see that this government will not survive its six years.

Now, I am working as a manager to someone who I believe is more intelligent than me. Had I desired a government post, I would have approached friends from the Liberal party or even Manolo Quezon who knows me and who, I consider a dear friend.

I am just being consistent. When I helped those generals and even had the pleasure of being too close to the First Gentleman, I could have exploited that friendship by demanding a post shortly after EDSA dos.

But, no. Fact is, I was one of those who militated against it by publishing a workers' tabloid in November 30, 2003. We were the very first ones who shouted "Ousted Gloria" when others were scrambling for posts and favors from Gloria. And for nine long years, I struggled against the very person whom I risked my life for, just for her to replace Erap.

Like the rest of Filipino professionals and workers walking like ghosts every single day in these hope-forlorn streets, I only want one thing from Noynoy---to improve our quality of life.

For the new president to provide us with trash cans and efficient and daily garbage collection services so that most of us would not be constrained to throw our trash in esteros and waterways.

For the new president to give most of us the opportunity to get low-cost houses so that we will not be forced to live in dangerous places. We, the ordinary Pinoys, do not demand freebies, oh no. Just the opportunity from the government to loan some money to construct our small dream houses (but not by buying Camella houses, oh no.)

For the new president to fire all those MMDA officials who muck up traffic every single day. All we ask is order. All we ask is for government to do its job of enforcing order in our chaotic streets and avenues. All we ask is rid those roads of illegally constructed obstructions, of placing a rational traffic system out of a personally-motivated one that a psychotic MMDA chairman did, of ensuring the safety of using our roads, especially EDSA, which is now filled with moon craters and of insuring that when we use our avenues at night, these are filled with working light posts.

Are these things too much to ask from a government that spends trillions of pesos each year, most of it coming from our pockets as an ordinary Pinoy?

Is it too much to ask that this new administration ease some of our burdens? Is it too much to demand from them, that they ask giant oil companies to give us a fair price for our gasoline and diesel? Is it too much to ask that they arrest and detain those food manufacturers and food smugglers so that food prices reflect their true prices?

Is it too much to ask that this government ask Manny Pangilinan and the Lopezes, political allies of Noynoy Aquino, to lower these electricity rates, since they already got 2 billion pesos worth of profits from us this first quarter of the year?

Is it too much to ask that this new government ran after those unscrupulous thieves in barong still lurking inside Customs, BIR and DPWH? That these syndicates can still roam our streets and live a ritzy life out of our hard earned monies and just smile and grin when they knew that its "business as usual"?

Is it too much to ask that those who helped Noynoy Aquino be true Katipuneros by acting like one? That they have faith that we, of the poor and depressed classes of professionals, want nothing more than service instead of money?

And lastly---is it too much to ask from our elected officials to find some other people to serve the bureaucracy? People who have better professional records, of unquestionable loyalty to country, of unsullied moral and public probity and are not connected with those multi-millionaires who contributed to Noynoy's campaign kitty?

We demand a government composed of patriots, who will serve our interests and pursue our welfare, not the welfare of the rich and powerful lobbyists, business owners, business magnates, corrupters of morals and veteran political ass-lickers?

How then can we expect these things to happen when Noynoy appointed questionable characters in his first cabinet and had the temerity to tell us, that, in one name appointed, three others will rise up and accuse his choice of numerous charges? Is that being responsive?

Did we, the people, know anything about Angelito Alvarez except that he cheated in a golf game and for twenty years, played footsie and golf with Customs officials without even lifting a finger to improve the system?

For twenty years, Alvarez, the new Customs chief, admitted playing fire with unscrupulous officials at the Customs department. We hear nothing from him that he, as a citizen, reported these smugglers to the authorities and caused their arrests. And now, we hear him, telling us that he will file charges against smugglers and other shady syndicate characters there every single week? How can we expect that when he's part of the corruption that has plagued our society for 20 years?

After announcing a "new Philippines", we now see the newly appointe DPWH secretary, the one trusted by Noynoy Aquino, announcing to the whole world that his department is "business as usual." Meaning, nothing will change. The status quo will remain. Meaning, those contractors who put thousands of lives in danger with their poorly constructed roads and bridges will enjoy the same privileges, the same perks and the same stealin ways they have always been accustomed to since the founding of this Republic.

It's business as usual at the Bureau of Internal Revenue and you know why they are reportedly launching a campaign against tax cheats and others? Because this has been  the practice every single "new" administration. It's called the "chilling effect". Every government agency with these "collecting powers" always make a threat, especially to big businesses and establishments. And as usual, nothing comes out of it.

Cesar Purisima, the Finance secretary of Arroyo failed to get those big-time cheats and even allowed some to escape scot-free. How then will we expect big tax cheats to at least spend some time in jail, when it's "business as usual"?

So, this "New Philippines" is really "business as usual". Touche.

And I hate to say this but I really expected these things to happen, that this bravado, this so called "enough of the old, on with the new" rhetoric is simply just that, rhetoric. It is not in the nature of an Atenean or a UP graduates to become a Rizal or a Voltaire Garcia, oh no.

Let me then tell my good friend, my kuya. He once told me that he hates it when people presume other people to be this and that without giving them the chance to prove themselves.

My kuya, we criticize these appointees simply because, their records speak nothing of anything even near of being change agents. These appointees are industry players, part of this corrupt and degenerate system. They have been part of this system for so long and lifted nary even their finger nails to correct or even oppose those who do bad and evil things. Fact is, and this is undeniable, they fatten their bank accounts from the people's monies, both indirectly and directly. How then will we expect them to buckle down to the business of cleansing the bureaucracy?

And, really, I expected this to happen because elites schooled in our top universities do not really know what "pagbabago" really means.