Monthly Archives: July 2014

ONLY SMART PEOPLE SURVIVE

smart

Sometime ago, a controversial book circulated but was quickly banned because of its strong political scent and overtures. The title is “Some are Smarter than the Others.” The book was so controversial that its authors have as yet to be seen from the time the book circulated up to the present.

Nonetheless, the title alone can mean a number of biased interpretations. One can even deduce numerous connotations about it and one need not be a seasoned philosopher to underscore several implications. Indeed, some are smart, some are even smarter, than the rest of the specie.

To be smart means intelligent and one with acumen. That is according to Oxford dictionary. It came from old English “smeortan” (verb). The original sense of the term is “causing sharp pain; from this arose “keen, brisk”, whence the current senses of “mentally sharp” and “neat in a brisk, sharp style.”

Normally, it is the school that prepares a person to be smarter. He becomes gregarious to a large extent. Of course, there are also extraordinary lessons one can learn from the streets although these are mainly results of frustrations and problems. At times, learning from the street is practical, pragmatic than lessons derived from learning theories in school. But the street could offer a person to be smart only. Schools can up the ante by making the learner smarter.

A smart person succeeds if people around him would play dumb or moronic. A smarter person on the other hand transforms dumb and moronic people to be smart.

There are instances when people are played around by smart alecks. They are like children to a magician. People are vulnerable and at times uninitiated in the ways of the world. A single smart act could transform them into believers. More so, if a smart person conducts his act in a cinematic or in an artistic manner. Scam artists or speculators are like that, they are a template of what a smart persons could become. I would even include charlatans and some cult leaders in their ranks.   They lead people to follow their cause because in so doing the people are convinced that they will prosper and will be benefited in the process. Although the reverse happen. These smart people capitalize on the greed of the people, on their susceptibilities, on their self-centeredness. Carelessness is always at the core of the great many. Hence, their minds can easily be clouded.

At the end of the day, it is the smart people who survive better than the ordinary guys. Their nemesis however are those whom they cannot train their guns and ammunitions on. This is because they are better trained, disciplined and are referred to by their challengers as the smarter guys. These are the educated class. But of course, they are the scholars and despite scholastic pressures, they still could play active in the extra curricular activities of their schools. Scholars mostly are smart. But those few adventurous students, they who partake of more extra curricular tasks comprise the core of the smarter group. From their ranks would rise the smartest. Depending on their outlook, they become successful entrepreneurs, scientists, political stalwarts, statesmen.

Indeed, some are smarter than others. More so, they lead a fulfilling and a happier life.

 

 

 

 

 

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“BUHAY TAMBAY”

Tambay

“Tambay” is tagalized lingo, which originated from the English idiomatic term “stand by.” It means to while away time, to spend a period doing nothing, to just stand and well bid for time. This is usually an undertaking by those without any task at hand, unemployed, evading responsibility and yes, retired.

There is nothing sacred and sanctimonious about the act. As a matter of fact, there is nothing to it except killing precious time that should have been devoted into something productive. Unless of course, it is one’s duty to wait, to stay on post, to act as if one is literally a bird watcher. Nonetheless, it is no longer making “tambay” but something resembles a part of working, which of course is beneficial. To make “tambay” does not constitute any useful activity whatsoever. It is actually wasting time.

For the younger set, for those physically endowed, making “tambay” is almost like committing a crime. There is so much to be done, so much to complete, so much to undertake. It does not require employment to do something productive. One can clean the house, help people, facilitate something that needs an extra hand. One can be anywhere else and still be responsible in completing a task, whether it is worth in terms of being paid, or just being tapped for extending a helping arm.

For those who retired from, say, government service, to make “tambay” is almost synonymous to a rewarding period. It means leading a stress free lifestyle. It means being unstructured and fulfilling. It means a time for relaxation. It is a given situation when one is no longer grilled, suspected, blamed or censured. It is equivalent to ascending a step closer to paradise. It is a grace period when one has accomplished so much and that he was given a time to appreciate how he fared before. It is a reckoning consideration.

I am almost there. Well, except that my superiors do not feel like giving me the green lights yet. But I already could feel its ambiance.  I could smell freedom a few latches away.  I am already veering away from greater responsibilities in the organization. I wanted to be treated as a faded senior officer with only a few summers before I bow out eventually. Like a minimum security prisoner, I am just awaiting a few documents before freedom would beckon. The wait is as thrilling as watching the ending of a good movie.

But wait. I have a lot of friends who retired but never appreciated the grant. For them, they can still work. They detested doing nothing and there is nothing more rewarding than to continue working or seek employment. They dread that instance when their absence in the field would attract oblivion. They still wanted to stay in the groove, to be counted, not to be forgotten nor snubbed. They can still earn their upkeep and never have the inclination to be dependent. Hence, a lot of them would rather maintain a work load, come up with an enterprise if not reinvent themselves to be employees once again.

I remember my father. After he was handed over the compulsory retirement papers from government service at the age of 65, he still continued with his work in the academe. He even increased his load in the college so that what has been diminished in government, can still be filled up. When he reached 70, the retirement age of Justices, of Churchmen, he was disheartened. He wanted to extend his work as faculty. But it was the formal end in the organization. He must stop working. He must reorient himself to a life of a “tambay.” But he persisted. He does not want to stay away from any activity. And so, he established a tutorial clinic for language until my sister stepped in. No more work for the old man, she said. Depressed, my father withdrew into his study and from there he weakened and his health deteriorated. He passed away at the full age of 86 and still dreaming of travelling as a form of work.

The older generation had this exceptional work ethic, which the present generation could not fathom. Work for the older set was fulfilling. For the youth today, work is exploitative and almost demeaning. The older generation had philosophy to make their day. In this generation, there is nothing except an empty unmelodious space between their ears. It is a pity. The present generation had everything made for them at the click of a mouse. The older set, given the same advantage would have craved for more time in this world.

For me, whether I belong to the old or new generation, I still prefer to be a “tambay.”

 

 

A QUARREL OVER MONEY

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.”

—-Timothy 6:10

quarrel

Over the past few months, we were aghast to discover a number of controversial cases pertaining mind bungling amount of money spent, disbursed and distributed in questionable deals.  Multi billion pesos pass through yearly appropriation in the name of stimulating economic growth but whose growth there is ambiguity.  Yet despite this effort, neither economy nor cultural growth was stimulated at all.  The poor, the great majority, remained deprived as it were and only a few benefited in the process.  Worst, it is the poor, the mass of taxpayers who are blamed for their penury and plight.

The poor must have to grin and bear every difficulty it encounters, after all they do not have the means to get even, do not even have the force to challenge institutions, do not even have the capacity to rule over their fate.  They are there to work hard and pay the correct taxes or perish.  That has been the scenario ever since civilization has been organized.  The only way common man can exact so much is to enslave himself further, exploit his surroundings, deceive his neighbour and outsmart his acquaintance.  If his luck would not run out, he may as yet escape prosecution for violating his neighbourhood.

And as if it is not enough for the poor ordinary citizen to be impoverished, imagining that his taxes may as yet help him through his government, a controversy would explode on his face.  Politicians from top to bottom are all rabidly pulling each other down right after pocketing taxpayers’ money.  And to think that these elected representatives of the people are quarrelling over money that is not even theirs in the first place!  No wonder, they would even wreck havoc on any political challenge they would encounter just so they would be able maintain their very power and corner more largesse courtesy of the people’s industry.  Their tenure is often described as rapacious and outright abusive.  If there are insurgents in our midst, it is merely a desperate response of the people to get even, even if it constitutes only as a prick.

Just the same however, this rebellious expression is oftentimes used as justification to withdraw more tax money to sustain a war directed against those forces which are contrary to their own personal interest.  Money seems to overtake any decent principles, even upend years of scholarship in prestigious schools.  There is currently a case on diversion of public funds to fake NGOs as it passed through the nose of people who graduated from top notch universities and colleges in Yale, Harvard, Georgetown, etc.

History is replete with this consideration.  Judas sold out his friend for 30 pieces of silver.  There is thievery in every civilized corner.  Majority of offenses ,as can be gleaned on the population profile of prisoners, have committed crimes against property. Family members are even at odds when money becomes the center of discussion.  Couples separate ways when they no longer have money to gel their relationship.  No money, no honey.

Try to convince a priest for a special Mass without paying a higher fee and chances are you will be ignored.  Board a taxi by pleading its driver that you have nothing to pay for the ride.  Sleep in a five star hotel and ran afterwards.  Enrol in a good course without forking out for tuition and matriculation.  Or, better, try to enter a hospital emergency room without disbursing its admission cost.  Without money, one is nowhere near salvation.

That explains why there are so many troubles, why there are so many conflicts, why there are a lot of misunderstanding.  If money is there, it is worth competing on how to earn it.  The problem however is that the money is nowhere and it is in somebody’s pocket.  Worst, it is not even his own money!

 

 

ENRILE: ANTI HERO AND HERO IN ONE

ENRILE

Juan Ponce Enrile in his autobiography is a hero.   Who will not do the same in the first place?   Notes however from UG (underground, the term used by progressives who later were conscripted into the rebel fold and eventually joined the insurgency), JPE is an anti hero, a villain, as solid as a rock.  He was their arresting authority, jailor and head executioner rolled in one.

JPE could not be defined in one sitting though.  He could not even qualify as an enigma.  He is as real as events and he has adjusted well even to the point of taming major incidents to his advantage.  He may be wrong and his presence disadvantageous, he may be unpatriotic and wicked but that is how things happen in this world.  Either one is in deep shit or otherwise.

JPE may have been inured in gross indigence that anything favourable (or unfavourable) notwithstanding taste would be fair game for him.  History after all favors or casts disservice depending on the one writing it.

Nothing in this country’s history could approximate what JPE has done and undergone.  To say that his entry into the country’s history gave him a name is an understatement.  JPE contributed his name unto it on every role he played and succeeding where others merely tired out, retired or failed.  He may have seen his end when according to his book he was left in a detention center by invading Japanese forces during World War II, left at the mercy of elements, left to die unceremoniously.  But he survived, as he crawled back into the fold during peace time.  He would work hard with great effort to get a piece of the sun, to get a chunk of luck if only to enjoy the satisfaction of recognition.

He was a love child and like any unwanted kid, he must adjust from the lowest rung in the family up until a little notch higher.  He must act like a slave and continue with it until he is accepted as kin.  Pet animals share the same fate.

For JPE, his fate seems to coincide with the fate of his nation.  His story is almost the same as the country that harboured his plight.  His struggle is similar to that of his government.  Although in the final count, he progressed better than his principal.  As a matter of fact, his fortune increased by leaps and bounds while his country sinks one damned layer after another.  There is no correlation in this regard.  It is just that JPE never retreated at a time when most of his peers and fellowmen were at the height of cowardice.  That made the big difference.

JPE played on both sides.  He was a hero to a certain extent.  He was an anti hero on the other end.  He was a hero during the EDSA revolt for sure.  Although he never carried the day but he drew first blood.  His defiance against a dictatorial regime he previously propped up became the reckoning period for historical forces to tilt the balance and throw out an abusive administration.  A revolutionary government literally grew out from his rebellion and the succeeding administrations were unceremonial offspring of his insurgence . That cannot be taken away from the man.  EDSA revolt began from his personal revolt.

Despite such cleansing effort from a figure during martial law as a disdained collaborator and anti hero, he would reinvent himself into a person with heroic streak.

A grateful constituency would award him recognition by electing him to high office.  He would be the elder statesman, a mentor and almost a sage among legal luminaries and legislators.  He was so confident that his battle cry would be quoted seriously and jokingly by almost everybody “Ang gusto ko happy ka!”  He would forget private life but would rather spend the rest of his conscious existence in the service of his country.  At a full age of 88, he would even be the fountainhead of that body that would rule and dismiss the career of the highest magistrate of the land.  He would hand down the verdict against the Chief Justice as Chair of the Impeachment Court.  That would have been the swan song, the final curtain, garland for a heroic life.  But a last minute twist of fate would pull him down and back to the back burner of history.

At the age of 90 and still enjoying the tenure as Senate President, he would be charged with an unbailable offense and detained in a police custodial center.  For this man, the stretch and breadth of his authority and influence, moral and philosophical, social and political, could only be expressed on how he is addressed.  He is Manong Johnny to his peers.  JPE to his admirers.  Juanito to his family.  But at the moment, he is Enrile.

A LETTER TO MY FRIENDS


friendship image

Greetings my dear brethren,

Actually, I am at a loss if at all I would be asked to describe a friend.  There are so many description of what it is.  Accordingly, there are good friends, fair weather friends, accidental friends, instant friends, etc.  At first glance, there are also best friends and friends of your friends.  This generation has defined friendship in a narrow sense by introducing the so-called BFF or best friend forever as if there is no limit or challenge to encounter.

There is also a new friend in contrast with an old friend; a young friend with that of an elderly friend.  There is also the ex-friend, one who once was a part of you but money or jealousy set you apart.  And then, the boss friend, one whom you look up to similar to a parent but is more protective of your turf or interest.

As there are so many classification and categories of friendship, so is my relation to my friends.  Although I would rather not arrange them in batch or column but would rather accept them, as they come, as they really are—as plain and simple—friend.

I don’t really care if friendship is used to exploit or explore someone.  I don’t really care if I encounter hardship or penury because of it.  I don’t give a damn if there is curse appended to it.  For me, a friend is a friend is a friend.

History reveals that betrayals are more of a natural response among friends.  Treachery is almost an element.  Disloyalty and perfidy can only be expressed in the course of friendship gone haywire.  In friendship, there is danger and pain.  But it is also in friendship where salvation and deliverance is sweeter.

I grew up in an environment that makes a person whole.  My orientation is more renaissance than romantic.  I learned early that one could survive and be an island all by himself.  It is easier to be alone than with someone.  You are not only forced to work for the success of a relationship, you also do not impose or expect someone to adjust to your idiosyncrasies.  It is fair for everyone.

If at all I would be enjoined to live in a group, I would rather present myself as a friend, rather than move around looking for one.  I see myself as complement rather than an accessory; a counterpart more than a decoration.  I am never in search of friendship if it would only reduce someone.  I would rather have someone improving as a consequence of my existence.

And so alone I hop from one genre to another.  Adjusting from one field onwards another.  Brokering plans, entering into various areas in search of dreams, formulating opportunities and in the process creating friends along the way.  The more I move around, the more friends I make, the more people I meet, the more occasion to be acquainted with humanity.

I project myself as friendly as I can, I share ideas, I share experiences, I share almost everything I have.  I am neither discriminating nor astute.   I am never envious or covetous.  I can relate with a bum and collaborate with a genius.  I can live in a cave and be at ease in a palace.  I can be pleasant in prison and be amiable inside a church.  I can be anywhere.  I am never choosy.  I believe in the dictum “bloom where you are planted.”

Wherever I am I feel fulfilled.  I can already count my blessings.  But there are instances when I would find myself surrounded by people.  It is at times incumbent in my stars that wherever I find myself in a particular area, there are people who would later constitute a circle where I always would wind up.  They navigate on the same stream I would find myself paddling.  My association with them would later be seen as a friendly overture for collaboration.  Some would find my cause and would find it similar to them.  We co-exist precisely because of it.  As I move, so they would also.  Any error committed along the way would likewise be seen as a collective error with me at the top.  That would also be a realization that despite my keen understanding of danger, of skillfully eluding hazards, here I am confronted with scores of them, which at times are brought about by careless acts.

I am also never given to blaming others.  Neither would I retreat for being undiscriminating.  I would just shrug my shoulders and analyze things with a view of changing strategies as events unfold never to be shortchanged or fooled by incidents ahead of me.  The problem, I dare say, is not mine or from those who are close to me.  The problem is the inability to act, inability to understand and inability to skip a sink hole.  While I have such readiness, the company I keep has no orientation about it.  As they fail and crash, so does my own prestige also.

But there is no rancor on my part.  I along with my friends are subject to any trial and tribulation.   I can be a part of failure, I can join a painful struggle, I can also withstand difficulty along with the great masses.   After all, I am but a bit player in the universe, very mortal and naturally corporeal.  Like any other living creature, I bleed, I get hurt, I am subject to Father Time.  I get sick and experience frustration.  I exhibit every weakness of a human being except one quality which I disdain and has completely ignored, that of cowardice.  But just like any other man who believes in luck, I could only sit back, smile and be contented in contemplation, thinking that I can succeed in any endeavor at any given time whenever I set my mind into.

That is one area I wish my friends would internalize too.

 

 

 

 

 

A LETTER

 

father and child

TO ALL MY CHILDREN,

I am blest to have all of you. It is not true that I lost count of your number. I know you personally by heart. I am always there at the time of your birth. As a matter of fact, I know all of you individually from head to toe. I know every detail of your persona although at times I would forget your birthdates. I am never particular with dates to be frank about it. I would also forget mine several times also. Of all numbers, dates for me are trivial.

But be that as it may, I was there enjoying fatherhood with your arrival. I could not find the exact emotion, the genuine love I have for your mother for conceiving and giving birth to you. Your presence in this world made me whole. You gave me a full meaning of what life is all about. You have defined my being. Although you probably lost track of any caring recollection of me, somewhere at the time of birth up until you were able to appreciate your situation, I was there for you all along. Those were times when your memory has not matured yet. When you were so young, toddling and vulnerable. When you see the world only through my eyes, navigate your surroundings through my agile feet; challenge the threats of environment through the strength of my health. You were a part of me. A spike in your temperature could send me scampering for emergency already. Your cough alone could compel me to renew my faith despite having lost it during my carefree youth.

I was your playmate, your toy, your puppet, your doll, and your favorite punching bag. Sports, violent work, martial arts never had a dint on my body but you know what? I lost all my front teeth as a consequence of your baby kicks! And every time I would have my dental look fixed by a set of orthodontists, my implants would be a wreck after another round of our rough plays. My frontal bone near my nose would be deformed, in my estimation, as a result of dental implants! But that’s par for the course as they say. It’s part of the territory. For every broken tooth, a fairly happy baby I have made. And it was already like reaching paradise for a parent.

Actually, I was lucky, had your mother been the one to kick me, my face would have been more deformed for life! That is a joke, of course. Your mother loved me more than any other in this world until the library and arts claimed my consciousness.

I still could vividly recall how I gallantly would go to the front line of succor whenever you have colds and you would experience difficulty in breathing. I would instantly suck your nose with my mouth, slurping away slimy substances that impede your nasal cavity. And I would gently repeat the procedure until such time that your breathing would resume to normalcy. I know it was effective since after a few mouthful attempts, I could hear your small voice muttering stability in deep slumber.

I have never waned nor diminished my strength whenever I would coddle you in my arms. Complaining was not a term in my personal dictionary. I could even stand for the entire week without sleep and still would display a good smile.

I enjoy telling the world how we were before because it was the most memorable and significant part of my unheroic life. As a matter of fact, it constituted the very essence of my existence. It defined the core of my role in the universe. That period in our respective lives, whether we are aware or not, was the substance of my entire being.

But as soon as you gained a foothold on your environment, the moment when you began to appreciate your surroundings including the way your seniors treat you, life has unfolded a new chapter.   Mine would have to fade and wither, and in your case, yours will blossom. Life goes on, moving towards the future, the past will remain as such, the future about to become the present. I no longer represent the center of your universe. Your perception has relegated me to the periphery. I am already an audience keeping you company from a distance. You are now at the center of your own cosmos.

Time says that we move forward along with its ticking. Time indeed waits for no one. You must proceed where we have left and rush towards a new understanding of what reality should apply for you. I have been through the same process and believe me, there is no formula. It is nature repeating itself. Everything is a clone of everything. But it would rely on how you intend to lead it. If you are smart, then everything is laid out for you. If not or you choose to be otherwise, then you simply forego the pleasure of satisfaction.

I say choose because education is the vortex of being smart. Disregard the field of reading, writing and computing, you will remain ordinary and always at the mercy of those who passed through the regime of learning. I want to stress this precisely to explain the joy I had when you were wrapped in my arms singing lullaby, having mustered the art of patience internalized through years of learning. That is right, a sharpened mind will always love sincerely.

The Bible is also clear on this. In John 1:4, it has been said “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

I may be somewhere, distant as you were, at times nearly forgotten because of detachment but I was there when you have no concept of your self yet. As soon as you began to grasp reality, as soon as you gained consciousness of everything, I rescinded into the shadows. It is a painful separation but it is part of the natural cycle. One must die for others to live. An old tree must fall so that the sprouts surrounding it will grow.

I feel proud, so much happy and very privileged to have been a part of your formative years. Tragedy could no longer reach it. Suffice it to say that I live through you and the generations ahead.

 

Your father and former playmate.

 

 

INFERNO

hell and inferno

After typhoon Glenda lashed out power supply, there was total silence and calamitous calm everywhere.  There were no rustling of leaves since all leaves were plucked away by the 150 kph gusty wind.  There were no connections to the outside world since all communication lines were broken.  No electronic gadgets could operate.  It was back to basic.  There was nothing to do after cleaning the yard except to read.

There in the corner of my bed was a book I barely touched since I bought it several months ago.  It lay there merely as reminder if at all I would find time after a rigorous day in the office.  The calamity gave bent and I found myself immersed on reading.  It was the book, the third bestseller of novelist Dan Brown “Inferno.”  For three days without power, I consumed the whole book cover to cover and it was adventure.  Dan Brown’s adventurous character Robert Langdon took information sharing to a higher level.  Reading the book is like getting education on history, philosophy and science in one sitting.

Sometime ago, the book became a controversial piece of fiction writing when it featured the Philippines specifically Manila as “the gateway to hell.”  Let me lift that contentious portion from the novel (on page 351 on the book bound edition) , to wit:

“Through her acts of public service, Sienna came in contact with several members of a local humanitarian group.  When they invited her to join them on a monthlong trip to the Philippines, she jumped at the chance.

“Sienna imagined they were going to feed poor fishermen or farmers in the countryside, which she had read was a wonderland of geological beauty, with vibrant seabeds and dazzling plains.  And so when the group settled in among the throngs in the city of Manila—the most densely populated city on earth—Sienna could only gape in horror.  She had never seen poverty on this scale.

“…For every one person Sienna fed, there were hundreds more who gazed at her with desolate eyes.  Manila had six-hour traffic jams, suffocating pollution and a horrifying sex trade, whose workers consisted primarily of young children, many of whom had been sold to pimps by parents who took solace in knowing that at least their children would be fed.

“Amid this chaos of child prostitution, panhandlers, pickpockets and worse, Sienna found herself suddenly paralyzed.  All around her, she could see humanity overrun by its primal instinct for survival.  When they face desperation…human beings become animals.

“…as she ran, she could feel the eyes upon her again.  She no longer blended in.  She was tall and fair skinned with a blond ponytail waving behind her.  Men stared at her as if she were naked.

“…she cleared the tears and grime from her eyes and saw that she was standing in a kind of shantytown—a city made of pieces of corrugated metal and cardboard propped up and held together.  All around her the wails of crying babies and stench of human excrement hung in the air.

“I ‘ve run through the gates of hell.”

In the novel, the character Sienna was mobbed, dragged into a small dingy and filthy tavern and almost raped.  No wonder, her impression of hell was that real.  Dan Brown’s depiction of the scene was that surreal too.

And true enough, there are areas, pocket areas in Metro Manila where there is concentration of slum.  These are zones where the great unwashed converged, trying to survive, a congregation of luckless persons, bound by a similarity of unkind fate, expecting nothing from government except morsels squeezed from garbage and excesses.

Sometime ago, a vehicular accident occurred near this place.  The driver, a young professional was thrown out of his car, in his business suit, signature jewels and branded shoes, alive but unconscious.  Slum folks immediately converged around the poor fellow.  Just a few minutes after the authorities arrived in the ambulance, the victim was rescued as he lay stripped of everything, already naked!

If this is the gates of hell, then it is no wonder almost everyone wanted to leave for abroad!

Fiction at times speaks of reality as if it is the truth.

 

A TALE OF FEMALE DETAINEES

female prisoner

Detainees, wherever they may be lodged, whether in a hospital, crammed jail, lock up, a special detention house, police custodial center, speaks a lot about their respective persona.  And while their respective detention place may project unsavoury impression and may advance suspicion of biased handling given a spacious area, what is important is their instant presence in the event of a court required attendance.  More so, detention should never be a component of punishment since guilt is as yet to be determined by law.

The law may be cold and neutral, at times warm and considerate against any of those who are suspected of having transgressed society’s norms but jailing or incarcerating or, yes, detaining women is the height of abuse and cruelty.  A women suspect or offender may have committed a wrong, may have sinned gravely, may have violated sacred strictures, but their femininity should never be reduced at all.  I do not mind if the male specie undergoes the rigors of pain and segregation, they are designed that way anyway, but this should never be allowed to the female sector.  At best, the female suspect should be confined only in her house if at all there is a need for detention.  There ought to be a legislative consideration addressing this concern.

Let us look at those we know.

Atty Gigi Reyes, 54, former chief of staff of detained Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile was recently charged and eventually detained as an accused in the plunder case involving the diversion of P10 Billion in congressional pork barrel funds, a non bailable crime.  She lived a fine and decent life away from penury and want, away from the stress of making a living.  Everything was for her rosy and bright until the curtain of alleged corruption, brought about by a complicated maze of finger pointing, landed on her lap.  According to whistle blowers, she was the front and the one in receipt of kick backs amounting to millions of pesos generated from falsified projects of Janet Lim Napoles.  The paper trail could not be ignored hence, the case.   At present, she is confined in a hospital.

Andrea Rosal, daughter of the late Communist Party spokesman Roger Rosal, charged of Kidnapping and Murder, both unbailable offenses, was arrested in a remote barrio of Quezon province, pregnant and about to give birth a few months.  Her relation to her famous/notorious father could not escape authorities from attributing rebel cause crimes against her person.  One military operation bagged her and instantly, she was detained in a jail facility supervised by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.  Considering her health condition, she sought permission for medical assistance and referral in a hospital.  At present, she is confined in the BJMP jail.

Deniece Cornejo, model and in her profile claimed as artist, was detained for the alleged kidnapping and mauling of TV host Vhong Navarro.  A case of illegal detention was filed against her and several co-accused, case that is unbailable.  She was immediately placed under custody of NBI and confined accordingly in one of its facility.

Janet Lim Napoles is linked with an alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund together with Philippine Senators Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and other congressmen.  Although a case of plunder is as yet to filed against her, her continued detention is a consequence of a case which her relative, Ben Hur Luy, a state recognized whistle blower, filed against her for illegal detention.  She is currently detained in a bungalow in a Police Camp designated as detention facility for high risk offenders.

Wilma Tiamson, along with husband Benito, believed to be the tandem in charge of the top hierarchy of the communist party in the country, the only surviving communist organization despite the fall of communism in the world.  Their leadership inspired offenses allegedly committed to serve political and social purposes but nonetheless were common felonies for which they are arrested and detained.  The couple is confined in the custodial center of the Philippine National Police.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, former President (the 12th President) and currently representative (Congresswoman) of Pampangga was charged of Plunder in the connection with alleged fund mess and diversion in hundreds of millions of pesos from PCSO during her term.  She is now under hospital arrest.

And many other female detainees confined in various jails, locks ups all over the country.

Call them what you may, but still I believe that they should be at home (on house arrest) and not anywhere else.  I would even venture a proposal that service of sentence, if at all they are convicted (should there be a law along this line to be passed later) may take the form of community service and restricted in confinement in their respective houses.  Institutional confinement is only resorted to as a consequence of violation of the penalty scheme.

 

HOW NATURE CAN RUIN A WELL LAID PLAN

typhoon glenda a

July 16, 2014 would have passed on as an ordinary day although there were announcements that a strong typhoon was already on its way.  There were even no tell -tale signs that an inclement weather was approaching since the sun was shining through and no dark clouds hovering up above.  Government had declared that classes were suspended, a signal for students to flock the nearest malls in the area.  The skies were clear anyway.

Time also to take down notes mostly jokes which I intend to share to my classmates in a mini reunion we planned a couple of weeks ago.  Time to reminisce and again take note of those instances I had with my classmates to add color and nostalgia.  Everything was prepared.  I never even allowed my government function to contribute wrinkles of apprehension on my face.  It must be flawless so that I would be able to project a stress free composure in front of my accomplished friends.  I even wrote on my Facebook timeline that I would be in my inspired poise in their presence.

I was very excited to see up close my childhood crushes!  It was some kind of “back to the future” thing, a time machine when I would experience an adventure almost similar with that which the star-crossed lovers encountered in the movie “Somewhere!”  I do not mean that the reunion implied a conference among romantics, but rather a congress of scholars poring over nostaligic matters.  I was recalling those days when I would volunteer to our adviser that my pretty classmates be spared from cleaning the room.  Their nice dresses and shoes should not be soiled by unnecessary movements, even by rough play.  I would plead our adviser that I would rather be assigned as permanent cleaner, one who will be perpetual scrubber of floor instead of the girls in the classroom.  I succeeded.  My classmates had stable days without sweat, in my case, I became the teacher’s pet with good grades because of industry even if I had never read the lesson for months.  Industry is a universal language in school.

And then, it happened.  At around 2AM, shrieking of metal and lumber joints grew louder by the minute.  There was no longer electricity.  The eerie sound of wind bashing the roofing sheets, intermittent whipping of twigs dropping from each side, there were whooshing and whirring.  Winds packing more than 150 kilometer per hour continuously battering in circular motion.  I thought that I was already in the eye of a giant hurricane, a colossal tornado!

Nature’s fury was imminent at that time.  It had no respect for obstacle.  It proceeded where it was headed.  If an object was not aerodynamic, then it was goodbye.  Physics was everywhere.  It was the only law in operation.  I could no longer reach out to technology.  All my electronic gadgets went haywire.  There was no way I can get out of the fix.  I merely had only one option: to pack my things in plastic so that if worst should happen, as when the roof of my quarters would cave in or be blown out, my personal things would not be soaked in flood waters and damaged.  Meanwhile, I must find a good shelter to keep my fate from being challenged by the gods of calamity.  I tell you, it was never fun if one is half awake and in pitch darkness!

The thought of missing the reunion came to mind.  All the preparations, the notes, the excitement that went with it, would be kaput, would go pfffft.  Nobody messes around with nature, not even the best well laid plan.  Katrina in USA made its government look like a tribal flock.  Yolanda in the Visayas made mince meat out of government leaders.  Fukushima in Japan became virtually a ghost town amidst a challenging tsunami directed against technologically savvy Japan.

In seven hours, I have to endure nature’s fury.  After the period, the whole place, my place, was in total disarray.  I could only reflect on what happened on those areas hit by an equally devastating typhoon.  After an hour, there was total silence.  According to news bulletin:  “54 died, 100 wounded and P867 Million worth of infrastructure was damaged and P2 Billion agricultural crops were destroyed.”  If I will volunteer to submit my own estimation on what happened to my things, the amount might spike a little, but the ruin it brought into my commitment, to attend the mini reunion, spelled a disastrous content, if not a historical nightmare.

And then calls for rescue and meetings became a blaring invitation from my agency.  As a senior officer, I must get into the loop of action.  I must be there where the action is.  I must contribute whatever it is that should be conducted.  In other words, ignore the universe and concentrate on the world of prison.

That did it.  Days on end, I must be near the policy maker.  The curse of a high office.  Forget your person and act as if one is never troubled.

On the whole, I failed to see my classmates, and worst, I had a futile moment regaining an important segment in my life to have a fleeting instance with the prettiest classmates I had once upon a time!

 

 

CELEBRITY DETAINEES: REVISITED

Two men in jail: One wearing shirt with 'Guilty', the other with 'Guilty by Association'.

Forget disparity or unjust, nay, unequal treatment, every celebrity carries a justified consideration why they should be treated differently from the rest of the great unwashed.  A detention officer may explain to high heavens and describe his cold neutrality on handling celebrity detainees but this will never hold water at all.  He may even feign strictness and being stern, of being severe and unsympathetic; the detainee may even submit every complaint in the book,  but looking closely where these celebrity inmates are situated would reveal the actual score.

 

We have former President, currently Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada while he was awaiting court verdict was safely detained in his own Tanay rest house.  One can even declare that half of the police elite forces were keeping Estrada in custody and on 24/7 watch, the fact that he was in a favorable, far from despicable jail environment, condition speaks a lot.  He was in this vacation house until he was convicted and for day before he would be transferred to the penitentiary, he would be pardoned.

 

And then we have former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on hospital arrest after the court has found probable cause for charges of plunder.  She is presently staying in a 50K a day lone presidential suite in St. Luke’s Hospital.  She may be experiencing every ailment in the book and closely guarded by a plethora of armed police group but one cannot ignore where she is holding court during the period of her detention.

 

Not to be outdone, there is alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles safely detained in a special bungalow within the police camp which formerly was used as holding center for those charged with national security—the likes of former Governor Nur Misuary, former President Joseph Estrada, etc.  How Napoles became a national figure defies estimation.  The fact that she became a billionaire for scammed transactions may partially give the answer.  Not billionaire in quotes.

 

A few rainfalls ago, two Senators (Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada) surrendered to authorities in lieu of the arrest warrant issued by Sandiganbayan for the charge of Plunder, an unbailable offense.  They were decently whisked into the PNP Custodial Center where the court order specified as their detention area.  Senator Revilla after a day of detention immediately complained on the condition of the facility that it was infested with cockroaches and rats.  A week later, with Senator Estrada as fellow detainee, they found the groove and adjusted accordingly.  Days after however, the circus like atmosphere which predicated the presence of Senators literally rocked the stability of the jail community.  Its warden was criticized and even fellow detainees (PNP officers charged in Atimonan massacre including NPA stalwarts) were up in arms seeking intervention for the senators to be transferred to another facility.  Meanwhile, fellow Senator Enrile seems to receive a fair and considerate treatment from authorities with respect to the site where he would be detained in consonance with his advanced age and weak physical condition.

On the other side of custodial responsibility, there are other infamous cases where its alleged malefactors are situated.  There is the Ampatuan case where the former ARMM governor and his kin, all politicians including a bucket full of co-accused remain under lock up in Bicutan District jail.  They were joined lately by those charged with rebellion from the failed Misuari led siege of Zamboanga City.  The jail where before it was teeming with street urchins turned snatchers and social scums has virtually transformed into an overcrowded house of discontented suspects with myopic if not distorted ideological and hostile world view.

Suddenly, that part of criminal justice system, the courts and corrections pillar found themselves at the vortex of public scrutiny.

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