Thursday, August 20, 2009

1029A

That's my precinct number.

Are YOU registered to vote?

If you are, you can check your precinct number here.

If you aren't, what are you waiting for?! Register. Now.

(Because, seriously, if sensible people like us don't vote, the highest seats in the land will once again go to the people with the lowest standards of good governance in the history of this planet.)

"Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote."
- Georges Jean Nathan

OR they could have gotten there because they know the right people, and "the right people" could have been named Garci.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Teddy Boy Locsin's eulogy for Cory Aquino

HAVING TO BE AT WORK WHOLE DAY, AND NEEDING TO SLEEP EARLY AT NIGHT TO WAKE UP EARLY ENOUGH THE NEXT DAY, I COULDN'T STAY GLUED TO THE TV SET, AS I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE DONE. THE NEWS SHOWS REPLAYED THE LAST PARAGRAPH OF THIS, TEDDY BOY LOCSIN'S TRIBUTE TO HIS BELOVED BOSS, PRESIDENT CORAZON AQUINO, BUT IT IS THE PRECEDING PARAGRAPHS THAT ARE LIFE-CHANGING. COURTESY OF JESSICA ZAFRA.

Throughout thirteen years of martial law, until I laid eyes on her again, I never thought that I would ever see the end of it. Least of all that my father would survive it. I am not much given to prayer or pious reflection but when I could set aside my anger, I prayed my father would see democracy again.

Late one afternoon, in San Francisco, I got a call. It was from Cory Aquino, for whom I had written one speech after her husband’s assassination. She said she had accepted Marcos’s challenge in a Snap Presidential Election. I put down the phone, and packed my bags, and reported to her at the Cojuangco Building.

I knew then she was the answer to my prayers. What I did not notice was that the closer we came to victory, which is to say the farther the prospect receded that the Marcos regime would survive, the less I felt the anger inside me. As each day passed, bringing me closer to the day I could get even, the less I felt the need for it as I spent more time with the woman who alone could make it possible.

I did not notice, but I was no longer looking back in anger, or looking forward even, to victory and vindication. Only now do I see. I had lived with my anger so long, only for the day to come when it no longer mattered to me. The only thing that counted was that I was living every day to the fullest, bringing out the best in me—for someone else. A dream I hadn’t had since I was a boy, feeding on stories of chivalry, had been achieved. I was serving a woman who was every inch a sovereign, all the more for scorning the slightest pretension to the role.

I did not realize it, even when I was already in the Palace, by the side of the President—among all her advisers, I like to think, the one who loved her most.

It never again occurred to me that I had scores to settle. And not until today, that I had passed up every chance to get even.

From the moment I came in from the airport and reported for duty, and she gave me in return the same smile she gave me on her deathbed, I never noticed… Not when I was with her in the campaign when she corrected me for not looking at the people I was waving at… Nor when I was with her in the presidential limousine looking intently, for her benefit, at the crowds at whom I waved… I never noticed anything. Except that I was with the only person that I would ever want to be with.

I certainly never noticed that I had left my anger behind. I don’t know how it happened. Except that Cory Aquino ennobled everyone who came near her. I have tried to say it publicly but never could finish. If you saw me as I felt myself to be, anyone would fall in love with me. I saw myself in that hospital room, a knight at the bedside of his dying sovereign, on the eve of a new Crusade, oblivious to the weight of the armor on his shoulders for the weight of the grief in his heart.

And because she always doubted my ability to be good for very long… Indeed, when my wife told Ballsy that I prayed the rosary at Lourdes for her mother’s recovery, Cory said, “Teddy Boy prayed the rosary? A miracle! I feel better already.” Because she doubted my capacity for self-reformation, she made it effortless for me by being herself. I did not notice that I was doing right by serving a woman who never did wrong. I am not sure how to take this moral self-discovery. It is so unlike myself. But if it will bring me before her again, I am happy.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

the graveyard book

After going back and forth between two photography books at Fully Booked the other day, I finally came to a decision.

And bought Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.

It's a story about a little boy whose entire family was murdered. He found refuge in an old cemetery, was raised by ghosts, and is protected from his family's killer -- who is still actively seeking him -- by an undead stranger called Silas. It's a play on Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book -- which I haven't read but will soon -- with an unmistakable Gaiman flavor. This is my kind of book: crazy characters, short paragraphs (Tolkien is a rare exception), a dash of weirdness, lots of downplayed humor, never a dull moment, a bit of heartache, but a relatively happy ending.

And it only serves to remind you Jacks-of-Trades types out there, that if you hadn't tried to kill the boy, he wouldn't have met Silas, and the Honour Guard wouldn't have gone after y'all. Just like, you know, Voldy, if you hadn't gone after Harry, you wouldn't have armed him with what he needed to destroy you, would you? In short, the more we try never to die, the more likely we are to do stupid things that hasten our demise. "Death is but the next great adventure."

This is the first book in a long time -- that I bought when it wasn't on sale or used or discounted in any way -- that I didn't regret buying. Maybe I really should stick to the young adult section. But whether you're currently into kids' or grown-ups' books, whether you're into horror, fairy tales, vampire stories, romances -- well, maybe not romances -- adventures, thrillers, or [unfortunately] med-school books, The Graveyard Book is a must-read.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

i don't forget

*
There are things about my country that I don't forget.

I don't forget that thousands of people shed their blood for our country's independence, battling the Spaniards, the Americans and the Japanese.

I don't forget that it is the hard-earned money of my countrymen that paid for my high school and college education.

And I don't forget what ordinary people can do when they decide to take the country's fate in their own hands. I don't forget EDSA. I don't forget the image of nuns and civilians, arms linked, offering flowers to soldiers. And I don't forget the person who made such unity possible.

My hero died today.