Monthly Archives: July 2015
Well, of course, it is frivolous to forecast what would happen in the next 100 years. By then a lot senior citizens today are already goners, me included. But what makes it very interesting is when one gets a glimpse of the future based on writers who studied trends to understand the past and anticipate the future. I have read the book of George Friedman “The Next 100 Years” and it was indeed very fascinating. Jacques Attali’s seminal work “A Brief History of the Future” is equally a very engaging book too.
It is as if I have cheated time. I have already known what would transpire several years from now.
Sometime ago, author Alvin Toffler, a writer whose future prognosis he encapsulated in a series of books “ The Future Shock”, followed by “The Third Wave” and recently “Revolutionary Wealth” encouraged me to study contemporary times in relation to futuristic view. And indeed, what he saw in time became a reality. His forecast became a reality. I was effective also in my career because I know what exactly the events that would unfold are. Although it was merely token since I had no use of such insight then because I had youth and it was equivalent almost to immortality.
But old age must have a purpose and since it could no longer be retracted, the most a person could do is merely take a glimpse of that which would happen years from now. Rizal’s “ The Philippines A Century Hence” is an essay on how he projected the country within a hundred years. Rizal might have been contented even if he would depart that he already knows what will happen to his country even assuming he lives a hundred more years. Politics though did not allow him the luxury but of course, even then, he lived through the events just the same.
Reading books about the future predominate much of my time. It is an exciting preoccupation to learn things that would unfold in the forthcoming centuries. It stretches the mind. But of course, there are certain things which would remain for ages, like the game of Chess. There will be variations of the sport but definitely, the original template is more challenging.
There will be more variations coming from a singular and eminent invention. The internet for one. While it became popular and mass based, its development is even exponential. Knowledge and information content are updated in milliseconds and stored even in microchips which later might be reduced into minute particles.
But what baffles mankind is the development in science whence life can be preserved and allowed to be thawed for eternal continuity.
This is could be the apex of man’s intelligence. We are still a notch higher than the ground level but technology pushes the boundaries of science. Much knowledge is still stack in the drawers of those interested in science fiction. It may someday come to pass. And in due time, life becomes perpetual.
When that happens, then the question of what to do with remaining years would already be obsolete.
Time indeed flies incredibly fast.
Sometime ago, I was always amused whenever older friends would doze off during a conversation. Well, to a certain extent, It could be the dragging part of conversation as in listening to an uninteresting lecture that one pushes a person to the limits of his attention and failing to control his eyelids, snooze follows.
And it was not just a happenstance to note that older guys have smaller threshold when it comes to staying up awake even in broad daylight. I don’t know whether it was intentionally done to make hilarity the theme of the day but it seems that it is biological.
After reaching the age of 60, the age my older friends would have their period of napping even during discussion, I could also feel a little drowsy. If left alone, my tendency is to slumber already, even if I have a full nighttime sleep. Now, this is biological and no longer amusing, well, as far as I am concerned; because here I am already a potential protagonist in the amusing art of performing siesta even at the height of animated conversation.
Now I try to recall what made those older guys during my youthful days very funny. This may provide me insight so that I will not fall in the same category as subject of hilarity.
I have noted the following and pledged never to project it since these are never biological at all. They are more social if not cultural.
- Older guys are no longer concerned about their appearance and most of all ignoring personal hygiene.
- They seldom smile and frown a lot.
- They seldom laugh.
- They no longer buy cologne or after shave lotion. As a matter of fact, they do not want to buy anything at all.
- Their finger and toe nails are always overgrown.
- They are unintentionally satirical, irritable and prickly.
- They are very sensitive and prone to depressive moments.
- They look at sex no longer as an action flip but as a momentary subject.
- They talk about ailments most of the time and talk repeatedly on the same subject.
- They move very slow and complain a lot.
To be that old and topic for laughter by the youth, the fellow need not force himself to look young at all. One can have stem cell and all the anti ageing formula injected into his system but if the person behaves in the manner described above, then he would be the laughable old hag he would be. Never mind the looks but it is the manner how he behaves and projects himself that betrays his age.
Getting old is no laughing matter actually. In Chinese and Japanese martial arts movies, they are the revered masters. Even in Western films featuring the mafia, it is the elder that portrays the godfather or kingpin. In reality, they are highly respected and even esteemed.
Old people always feel superior because of experience. They would have approached the level of godhood already except that nature has its check and balance mechanism. Man cannot transcend anything that is beyond its nature. Hence, old people get a lot of sickness to lure them from the thought of omnipotence.
And when an old man tries hard to achieve something beyond the limit of his nature or forget in updating himself, then that indeed is tragic and well, very funny.
Once upon a time in a distant province of Luzon, there lived a drifter. He was known as Eufemio Tesoro, a branded cavalier and gun runner. His life was a complete and a disastrous adventure that his marriage to a teacher did not last long. He was more on gallivanting until he got acquainted with a businesswoman. They cohabited for years and bore several children. One of them was Rodolfo.
While Rodolfo’s parents were never strict and always tolerant, his siblings pursued education as if it was a matter of immediate concern. Rodolfo took the easier path. He dropped off from school and made himself available to his friends who were likewise enjoying street life. It could probably be due to sickness or plain exhaustion that Rodolfo’s gallivanting never merited parental attention. It could also be a matter of pampering too since Rodolfo was the youngest.
And so Rodolfo went on his own, spoiled and coddled not only by his family but even by his peers. He was being celebrated as a free spirit, artistic because he could easily pick up a tune, a piano wizard even if he has never been tutored on music. He would only stay around the piano repair shop and tinker. Thereafter, he would loaf around with friends, enjoying the mystical element of youthful time. It was a grand occasion to savor life in its pristine form—spacious, light hearted, nothing to worry, no tension, no responsibilities. Life for Rodolfo was like that in fairy tales.
Years went by. The doting mother died. The tolerant father faded, first his eyesight, then his means and eventually his mobility. Rodolfo suffered in the process. He could no longer demand his sustenance. He must contain his adventures and certainly his fashion taste for contemporary style. He felt he had an affinity with the famous Beatles, the fave at that time. For a while, he looked like George Harrison and thereafter, settled to ape John Lennon with his iconic circular shape eyeglasses.
Unlike his idols who were making waves and money, Rodolfo was nowhere eking a living. While John Lennon was composing one hit song after another, Rodolfo could not ascertain where to get his next meal. Although both looked the same, Lennon was succeeding in his field; Rodolfo was on the drain, failing in every venture.
Yet Rodolfo must survive. His siblings had careers made up for them by education and had gone abroad to compete. In his case, he was left at the mercy of friends who were already one by one deserting him for a favorable employment. He was left to fend at the shop of his deceased mother, a piano repair shop. He could go back to check how he can restore some musical instruments since he was oriented sometime past on how it could be done. It could very well be his means of livelihood.
In between labor, he would scour for relatives whom he could also serve to tune their piano. And it gave him enough elbow room to earn his upkeep. While he imagined before that he could be one of the best musicians in town, it never took off since his discipline did not correspond to the requirements of any career. He wanted to be a free spirit and at the same time be known as a wizard. Expertise is born out of hard work and humility and never from the vantage point of relaxation and braggadocio.
At times, he was well shaven and decently dressed but most of the time he was unkempt and shabbily garbed. When his piano tuning customers would be contented on his service, he would bath himself with his favorite beer. But these incidents were seldom to come by. Mostly, he would just repair in just one corner and munch for morsels in nearby food chains.
Rodolfo led a life of a gypsy and never for once entertained to have a family of his own. He could not find stability of employment and therefore could not find enough resources to maintain a family. And so, his life was dedicated to meandering far and wide. He wandered and kept on embarking on scouring for friends and relatives. Finding none, he settled as laborer in a piano manufacturing shop. His skill was easily recognized but his attitude towards work was to be his downfall.
In a few months, he would be back on the street, unemployed, unwanted, unwelcome and completely ignored. He had grown old already. His flowing mane and smooth complexion had given way to graying hair and facial gout. He looked years ahead of his biological age. And he had no place to land on.
Once before he was the toast of his friends, a symbol of generosity and camaraderie, an icon of musical wizardry, a person given to contemporary manner but he eventually worn-out.
In his twilight years, not even his siblings could determine his whereabouts. He got lost somewhere and no one seemed interested where he fell.
Rodolfo Tesoro started off and ended up as if he never mattered at all. I know. I was a toddler then when I met him and he was introduced to me as my uncle Rody and I saw in the gleam of his eyes his excitement. That excitement however was inconsequential on how he spent a precious time.
When a female Beta Splendens (commonly known as Siamese fighting fish) gives birth to its spawn, it leaves behind several bubbles from which the male fighting fish, the father, will take the cudgels of taking care until the fingerling could feed on its own. Shades of the marine sea horse which literally takes care of its babies on its womb!
In the animal kingdom, it is the parents, and how it nurtures its youngsters that determine the success of species survival. Animals which are loyally attached to its kids are never affected by the stress and challenges of natural difficulties. As a matter of fact, they became stronger and adept given the trials. Animals with greater success rate in survival are those instinctively ferocious and live in a pack.
Among the human species, it is more on adherence to cultural practices that determine the status of its denizens. In advanced countries like in Europe and USA, once a kid reaches the age of 18, he is already on his own. In developing countries, a kid neve reaches his maturity since he lives with his parents until he marries and extends his family from within their original dwelling place.
In Oriental countries like ancient China, families seldom scatter especially those with wealth to preserve. There is intermarriage, at times incestuous arrangements, even among the members of the clan. In countries where foraging is still the mode, marriage among members of the clan is still prevalent. To date, in more civilized societies however, this practice no longer is acceptable.
Wealth in the beginning of these millennia is made more on hard work than succession. It is more on how a person is trained during his upbringing that matters.
The corner stone of nurturance begins from 0 age up to the time the youngster becomes strong to be independent. Once they are on their own, the young adults pursue their dream until they reach the apex of their aspiration. In modern societies, it is a parental duty to sustain their children’s education up until they graduate and secure employment. From there on, it is the youth against the world proposition. If at all they go back to their community of orientation, it is merely to be recharged and get more inspiration.
Seldom one hears a young adult complain about how they struggle since their credentials are in itself weapons they can easily use whenever the tough gets going. And a background in education never fails one who has it. It is a tough world today and those who can make it are those tough enough to endure it.
But there are instances when the youth chooses the lighter path, drops out of school and continues with their own personal and limited concerns. They would rather veer away from the so called road less travelled. This is a gamble and a matter of choice. For the gifted, it is more a blessing. For the ordinary run of youth however, it is a curse without salvation.
There are monumental failures that lead to gigantic accomplishments but these are more exceptional rather than the rule. Those who succeed along these lines have greater threshold and audacity to pursue their lines. They struggle without bothering the world around them. They depended solely on how they focus on their craft at times ignoring where they are coming from. Their posture is never contingent on whether their environment is favorable or not. Their accomplishment reflects their genius.
But they are only a handful and the rest are copy cats. For one thing, achievements largely depend on a specific approach depending on time and maturity. Indeed, different folks require different strokes.
If a person has reached the 60th year, he has already breached the entrance door of the so called “twilight years.” He must consider himself lucky already although in a way, dying at a young age or at full old age does not matter at all since one dies anyway.
Comparatively speaking, transcending the golden years up to the twilight years makes a little sense and is greeted with some kind of excitement. To a certain extent, there are token advantages too. One is to accomplish a lot of things one is interested in, something which a person has forsaken before because of prior concerns. With added years, he can trail that which escaped him like writing, spending days reading stacks of books, completing an artistic obra (a craft, , composing a song, rendering a painting, etc), seeing grandchildren grow, seeing fellow surviving peers, relatives or loved ones, pursuing another interesting vocation, getting a second romantic wind, extending more assistance, witnessing historical events, a whole lot more.
One prays for long life as if there is no life hereafter. Well, truth to tell, there is none actually. Hence, man wishes for more years to spend short of seeking immortality.
Of course, the drawback is a bit irritating. The more exposures, the more stress. The more stress, the more exposed to ailments. One becomes a loyal follower of drug stores and an ardent admirer of physicians. One’s breathing is limited and his capacity for longer attention virtually saddled with drowsiness. His suspicions grow more as years add on, suspecting science for prolonging life if only to sustain pharmaceutical companies. He lives in furtherance of business!
His eyesight becomes troublesome. His strength almost spent. His patience is to a certain extent controlled by the rate of his blood pressure. His glossy teeth become rickety and his smooth complexion begins to loosen. His internal organs are in a state of disarray. His mind begins to wander for forgotten terms. He may have a solution for greying hair by visiting the barber regularly, but his gait could no longer disguise that of an agile youth. He is lucky if he could still walk a mile without fidgeting for a chair.
Unlike before when he would indulge himself in the editorial page of newspapers, now he is reviewing the obituary part.
His invitation for longer trips has dwindled down to the minimum and attendance to parties no longer a regular feature of his schedule. He never attempts to stay late at night although it has been one of his routine in the past. He would rather spend longer periods at home where his room is a few paces away from the comfort room. He would rather be dressed lightly rather than wrap himself with accoutrements of ranks. Even if his mind is keener and analytical, he would rather read the whole day or compose something for his memoir.
For those who are in their twilight years, tomorrow has already come. Everything around him belongs to the past. He may jokingly refer to himself as an expensive wine or an exotic sandwich but what is clear is the fact that he has walked the sand of time and has shared himself among the creations which populated a planet.
He becomes a mere footnote whence before he was a headline.
His presence however cannot be ignored. From his blood would run countless generations ahead of him in the same manner that his forefather had contributed to mankind that which he one day would leave behind in a similar fashion.
Life goes on possibly up to the twilight years of humanity.
Opinion writer Alex Magno was analytically impressive in his estimation that the monolithic religious organization known as Iglesia ni Cristo is a republic within a republic. And amidst the scandal or controversy it has been exposed to merely serves as a sort of litmus test, a simple challenge for the organization to be stronger ahead.
Felix Y. Manalo (a Freemason whose fraternal discipline would reflect in the church he founded through its masonically inspired coat of arms) could not have envisioned that the rag tag believers he formed before would have grown into a giant today. It was of course steered by the son, Erano erstwhile called Ka Erdy who fashioned the budding religious crusade into a colossal force which politics and economics could only defer and acknowledge.
The INC doctrine which the senior Manalo advocated was in furtherance of a closely knit religious community where every act must apply or should be based on standards pursuant to Biblical citations. Anything outside of the Bible is deemed irrational if not outright despicable. The son went further in applying the doctrine. While old school religion taught that those who transgress religious dogma are committing sins, those in INC are suspended and the like.
INC not only takes care of its members in terms of direct assistance, legal or technical, it also herds its members as if they are business partners. It virtually creates work and opportunity for its constituencies. Members are given employment, livelihood and community defense. Members feel a notch higher than non-members. Their pastoral leaders not only go beyond pastoral care of their followers but pursue even their political and social concerns. Those who are reprimanded, suspended or expelled get nothing. And that means real hell.
The INC is a giant guild with religion as its core. It is highly secretive like any secret societies, highly disciplined like ancient soldiery, highly motivated like any fanatical sect, highly loyal like any mythological army. If it can be seen as a business, or a private corporation, it exudes of a movement with constant revolutionary fervor. Should a member is attacked by an outsider; the entire fury of a whole parish will soon unleash its anger on the assailant.
The members truthfully declare their revenues and from there submit their contributions through its system of tithing. They knew that it will be used for their protection, for their advancement, for their prosperity as a community. And it looks like they are properly managed—both as members and their resources. After all, they all are primed to follow Biblical accord and fear their conscience.
I have a lot of friends who are members of INC and from their actions; I could already discern the kind of association they belong to. Their organization has succeeded in transforming them into matured and trustworthy persons. As a matter of fact, employers have full trust on employees who are members of this religious organization. They follow their own dogmatic standard and not those regular secular traditions. They are truly a citizen of an outstanding government of their own—a fulfilled republic within a fledging republic.
For those non-members like me, it’s a privilege to have friends who are members of INC.
A friend of mine suggested, jestingly of course, that if I wanted to be rich, I must found a religion. I quickly dismissed it as a joke and admonished him for such sacrilegious talks. I would rather mind my own business rather than complicating it by manipulating beliefs just to keep my skins and bones together. After all, religion strictly speaking is only for philosophers and in this time of practicality and pragmatism, it is sheer hard work that pays greater dividends than nurturing flocks and proselytizing innocents.
The recent scandal which pushed the behemoth organization of Iglesia ni Cristo to the edge of controversy opened a can of curiosity into the beginnings and operations of religious organizations. The INC spokesman tried to tone down the confusion and implored that INC is not into business or corporation but a religion. It is therefore to be guided by principles than rules, commitment than regulations, and faith than intrinsic laws.
But at stake were not ordinary members who can be ignored for partisan or plain attention getting drama in the same vein as when former INC Pastor and now with his own religious show, Elly Soriano when he opted to break away. The trouble started right within the same family tree where the INC devotion grew. It is not from the ranks but from those above it.
It is not an isolated case though. As a matter of fact there were historical precedents when it comes to the evolution and development of belief systems of which civilization is anchored on. Intramurals and conflict from within the ranks is all too familiar a scenario, almost predictable.
In the past, there was this ancient story about Abraham. He was one leader who subscribed to believe in just one God. This was, at a time, when almost all tribes find devotion on animate objects and natural formations like the sun and the stars a popular and genuine conviction. As he travelled along with his tribe to a fabled land of their own, he fathered two offsprings. One was banished and eventually became a leader who likewise believes in one God. He led the moors which group became the core of Muslim faith. And the other son, who followed through his father’s belief and whose spiritual ideas eventually became the main principle behind Judaism. These were two major religious movements virtually capturing civilization’s imagination. The ancient world was instantly divided.
From there on, a number of belief system were born and each organization founded became powerful, influential and prosperous. It served as one lesson in economics which any worthy university may as well take a leaf from for a training program on managing successful commerce.
Billy Graham was one of contemporary leaders in the evangelization movement who virtually became known around the world. He walked with great political leaders and his image became a template and an inspiration for the succeeding generation of preachers and founders of other religious beliefs.
There was also a time in humanity’s history when religion divided the world and served as the major force behind horrible warfare. While ideology briefly interrupted religious competition, it was immediately restored using every terror modules that could be applied with rewards banded over through promises of heavenly recognition.
If religion serves as a trigger of division, it could also be a unifying agent. If championed properly, religion can be a basis for a successful venture. A number of religious organizations have flourished and smoothly flowed into the changing tide of times. They became a beacon of hope in remote areas, counsel for leaders, guide for administrators and general consultant on social and cultural affairs. They are a major part in shaping the history of a nation, at times, the very core of its cultural heritage.
The Philippines was predominantly a Muslim country before the Spaniards arrived. After colonizing the country for 500 years, its ethos including its belief system were gradually imbibed, replacing at times going hand in hand with its highly internalized Christian religious fervor a number of paganistic practices. When the Americans took over for 50 years, Protestantism and its various denominations crawled successfully into the mainstream of the Filipino consciousness. The Filipino psyche became a laboratory for supernatural teachings.
The Philippines from a distance became a sanctified society because of the multiplicity and ever changing of its spiritual profile. It is not even surprising to find in one house hold, a member who is a devout Catholic, married to a Muslim and whose children are Protestants.
Religion in this part of Asia is a highly viable business activity. The concept of saving souls became saving bread, of recruiting believers in heaven to subscribers of prosperity. The trend can easily to be seen and felt. It is no longer adhering to faith to gain blessings but to be blest to gain something.
Quite noticeable are the spanking edifices of religious organizations. They look more palatial than spatial. There are of course churches, temples and houses of worship. And those at the top are made already, thanks to the constant and relentless support and assistance by their followers.
In 1927, Iglesia ni Cristo started on a house near the banks of Pasig River. A century later, it has a church in almost all provinces, cities and municipalities of the country, not to mention hundreds more around the world! In October 5, 1978, Joel Villanueva founded Jesus Is Lord Movement and for a time counted hundreds of thousands of followers. His religious crusade almost took him to the highest office of the land but withdrew only to push his son to the apex of political connection. To date, his religious movement is the 5th richest among the partylist organization in Congress. In 1984, Mike Velardo took over the airwaves and became the highest grossing religious speaker which made politicians shake in their boots if his ministry would ignore them. Apollo Quiboloy in September 1, 1985 started his Restorationist Church in Mindanao and further formulated a religious doctrine that would focus on the Kingdom of God. Along the way, he discovered his divine lineage thereby proclaiming himself another “son of God.” Break away Pastor Ely Soriano became a multibusiness personality just after a few years of his high profile preaching in his Ang Tamang Daan movement which started in June 11, 2001.
All of them began literally under the tree, much like the beginnings of great religions in the world, but now their assets and worth are more than those of the richest persons in the country. Their financial profile has grown exponentially. They have become not only as religious and political influence but exude of economic force at the same time.
Whether this development borders on sacrilege or profanity, only the conscience could discern.
Convinced also that leading a religious movement may perhaps make a person prosperous, I passed on an invitation made on me to a friend.
My friend was never surprised at all because admittedly, he harbored the thought a long time ago. He was assured that his religious movement will create history and make him one of its greatest prophets. I played along but cautioned him that the field is almost saturated.
He was still a picture of confidence. He confided that his movement will be a game changer. He knew that someone successfully convinced a flock that he was the recent Son of God, another succeeded in persuading his followers that he was an “Anghel galling sa Malayong Silangan “with direct line from God, another as Propeta, another as Messenger, another as Representative.
He knew that. But he is different according to himself because he will project himself amongst the faithful and sinners within the tempting commerce of man . And I think he will make it. Accordingly, he will pass himself off as “Apo ni Satanas!”
It was the beginning of counter culture, the flower people, the hippies and blaring on radio were songs of Petula Clark “Downtown”, Matt Monroe’s “Born Free”, Beach Boys, Monkees, Dave Clark 5, Beatles. The beat goes on!
Quirino District (in Quezon City, then referred to as the Capital of the Philippines) is composed of several housing subdivisions partitioned according to project. Hence, there was Project 2, Project 3 and Project 4. Project 2 is separated from Project 3 by Victoria Creek. It was in that rivulet where I learned the rudiments of fishing. Project 3 is separated from Project 4 by Aurora Boulevard. Project 1 is several kilometers away and situated in the far end of Quezon City, referred to as Roxas District.
Streets in Project 2 were named after local fruits. I know, I live in Naranjita Street and my boyhood playmates including the girls we wishfully admire and imaginatively court were residing in said street, also in Marang, Lanzones, Pajo, Chico, Sineguelas, Durian, Kubili, Anonas, Bignay ,Tampoy, etc. Celebrity personalities used to reside in the place, the likes of rock star Mike Hanopol (he who coined Jeproks—inverse of Project) , academician F. Landa Jocano, basketball greats Freddie Hubalde and Larry Mumar, Chess great Ruben Rodriguez, Stella Suarez (famous actress and mother of Richard Gomez), opinion writer Art Borjal, former Manila Vice Mayor and former PNP Deputy Chief, General James Barbers and comedienne Nova Villa.
There were also the tough guys, Boy Gely, Monking, Boy Baranda, Boy Bringas, Taruc (whom I met in prison years back while I was conducting rounds as a prison officer), Rey Matias,Jessie Esteban, among others. Much as I wanted to follow their footsteps, their audacity for dealing with trouble was too much for me.
Streets in Project 3 were named after hardwood trees—Narra, Apitong, Molave, Palosapis, Tindalo, Yakal, Ipil, Almon, etc. It was in this area where once government officials and tinsel town denizen used to be street kids—-the likes of former Senator Francisco Tatad, former Post Office head Roilo Golez, actor Jay Ilagan and First Quarter Storm activist Ka Pandong Tayag.
It has been said that this renaming -of-street tradition was initiated by then President Elpidio Quirino who took note that in those areas referred to as Projects were once a plantation zone and after his term, it was subsequently followed through by President Ramon Magsaysay. In Project 2, fruits of varying species were planted. Over in Project 3, hardwood trees of varying varieties were likewise planted. Until it was planned and proposed by a housing agency, Homesite, to make it as a low cost mass housing area mostly for qualified government personnel.
Streets in Project 4 were named after heroes—-Rizal, Kalantiaw, Aguinaldo, A. Luna, Kalantiaw, De los Reyes, etc. It was also in this area where the great economic divide can be seen—Escopa for informal settlers and Blue Ridge for the economically successful. The king of Tour of Luzon, Cornelio Padilla, a resident in the area, used to deliver newspapers in his racer bike every morning in this place. Padilla eventually became a lawyer and has an office in the town. This is likewise where International Chess Grandmaster Eugene Torre resides.
There were landmarks where we ogled and passed through with our rented bikes when we were still in our juvenile period. There was Ortanez Hospital which became Ortanez University and recently evolved into several business establishments, after latter was declared by the Department of Education as a diploma mill. Only a few know that the first Jolibee outlet was established across Ortanez Hospital in a garage. We used to mill around the stall because the hamburger was outstanding. It would later become one giant food chain that would rival multinational food chains years later. Of course, the main shrine is Qurino Elementary School and Quirino High School. On its fringes, there was Durian elementary school and along Aurora Boulevard, Roosevel Memorial High School.
My father was a government worker (Bureau of Posts) and a professor (Philippine College of Criminology) and was a proud breadwinner. His combined monthly income was P300! At that time, the minimum fare was 10 centavos. And I would feel guilty then whenever I would ask mother to add 5 cents to my daily allowance!
There was the spiritual beacon of the area, the St. Joseph Parish Church. I was a long time acolyte in the convent and one of its top chess players too. I get my daily baon from the extra tithe bag we acolytes often pass around during the Mass. While all other parish priests in Quezon City stayed long, it was in St. Joseph where the turnover of parish priest was noticeably high. This may be attributed to the diminishing contribution of offering by mass goers. Actually, we, the acolytes were skimming the bigger amounts and leaving only loose change for the kura paroko.
Cubao was the mecca of those from Quirino District. It was sparklingly and relatively modern. The Araneta Coliseum then the biggest arena in the country was our Mount Olympus. The New Frontier theater along its fringes was the first cinema that boasted of high-end qualities. There was Farmers’ Market and Ali Mall. It was in Cubao where the famous ice skating rink was introduced. It was, in a sentimental recall, here in one corridor that my brand new Rado watch was also snatched!
There were movie houses for those who wanted to be entertained cheaply with two movies at a time. There was Marrick, Homesite, Peoples theaters. Cockroaches in these establishments were as big as birds! I had a number of encounters here inside the movie houses since management then was very liberal and highly tolerant if not neglectful. I learned to smoke while my feet were rested on the back of the chair in front of me like a thug and pull my batangas knife whenever a bully would approach.
The market place in Kubili was the commercial hub of Homesite housekeepers. Vegetables were cheaper than the newly organized Nepa-Q-Mart along Edsa. This was a result of high yielding productivity of students in gardening at Qurino Elementary School where the best vegetable plots were a model of agricultural tenderness by the likes of Elmo Abad, Alfredo Tabayoyong, Oscar Careon, Elmer Gloria, Edgar Javier or those teachers supervising the orchard, the likes of Mr. Silvestre or Mr. Agustin . It is still anonymous up to this day, who was the one transacting with market vendors on the cheap vegetables which my mother used to bring home after her weekly marketing.
While there were Projects 1,2,3 and 4, there was no Project 5 or Project 7 to speak of. There were Projects 6 and 8 though. That time, these areas were virtually covered with tall grasses, highly forested and considered the lung of the Metro polis. These housing projects flanked educational institutions which were considered sometime past the nests of the country’s best and brightest. There was UP, Ateneo, Maryknoll (now Miriam), Stella Maris, St. Mary, etc.
That is right, now, those were the days my friend and they were slipping and some had gone by. For a time, they were full of memories, each corner a monument of youthful condescension and each bend a tapestry for criminal mysteries as well!
The unforgettable 60s.
There is only one difference between the gods and the mortals. And it spells the great divide between these two major forces of nature. It also demarcates a significant consideration in the estimation of each in their relation to one another. While mortals envy the power of the gods, the gods on the other hand envy the mortals precisely because the latter is as such—mortals, they have an end, they expire, they die, and death is one quality which the gods do not possess. The gods are an eternal fixture and boredom is their curse.
And so, it has been said in classical mythology, that the gods would play prank on mortals, make them subservient, enslave them, make fun of them, pit them with one another, make them confuse, rattle them and the gods have a field day on top of where they wanted to be. The gods are constantly entertained and animated by the mortals. After all, notwithstanding the confusion they impose on mortals, they are still held sacred, prayed for, made sacrifices, everything almost dedicated to whoever the mortal is in awe. The gods remain as they are, powerful, almighty and yes, immortal.
On the other hand, the mortals who felt weak, helpless and destitute seek supernatural strength through prayers and offerings. There are rituals to draw the gods’ attention. There are ceremonies, sacramental, submissions. There are career interveners, the priests, who are trained to tame and call on the gods as if the gods founded their congregations. Mortals pray for the gods to carry on the struggle for them. Mortals wanted their gods to do the bidding, to even confront the challenges, to rectify, to solve the problem for them. After all, the gods are powerful and omnipotent. The gods can make things happen, can make something impossible as possible, can flick a miracle or two in a wave of their hand.
On several occasions however, the mortals at times were confused because the gods they subscribed to seem to be fighting and competing with one another. There is jealousy everywhere in the kingdom where the gods are ensconced. Mortals could no longer divine what god to call for. Homer wrote one classic story after another depicting the intramurals in Mount Olympus where all gods try to “outgod” one another to the detriment of mortals who were all scrambling for their intercessions.
After all, mankind has evolved their understanding of the supernatural from animism to mythological proportion if only to gain a full understanding of their fate and their universe. They thought that powerful figures that look like man were better than a stone. Hence, the gods were fashioned after mankind’s profile and proclivities.
One day, the gods out of their own follies faded in heaven. A bolt of lightning burst in the sky and man suddenly felt hopeless, they were jolted. In Far East they cried, “Theos”, in the Orient they cried “Dio”, in the Philippines they cried “Diyos”, in Germany they cried “Gott”, in Dutch they cried “Godt” , In Norwegian it is “Gud”, in England and in the New World, they cried “God.” It is God, the beginning of the term in capital and singular; no longer expressed in the plurality. The gods for a while lost their following and those who pursued became pagan.
Spirituality was established. Verily, there is only one God and the rest are saints or prophets with specialties much like the gods before them. Pagans shifted to a belief system called religion and the gods of yesteryears were resurrected through faith. There is no more immortality in the language but there is only death as a qualification to claim a reward for loyalty.
Mortals won their day with the gods and it is only in Heaven where they are joined in harmony.
That was the title of Nelson Madela’s bestselling autobiography. In the book, he earnestly narrated his tale on his 27 years in prison before he was released as a free man. San Francisco Chronicle Review noted that the work “was an engrossing tapestry of recent history….riveting and sometimes painfully honest.”
Thereafter, he went public, became active in his community and spearheaded movements which reintroduced him into the mainstream of national politics. He got the recognition he wanted, led in the struggle to make his country better and his grateful constituency elected him as President.
I wish to lift the title as my expression for bowing out from government service. It was also a long walk to freedom. Fittingly, like Mandela but more than those years he spent since I got out of prison after 38 years as an employee. When it comes of exposure on pain and abuses, the prisoner and staff or employee are equally exposed.
The only difference is that the employee after 8 hours can leave his station while a prisoner stays within a facility for 24 hours. But the difference is more artificial than significant; more synthetic than genuine. 8 hours in prison or 24 hours do not matter at all. It is the feeling of being subjugated to rules and being structured that spell out the experience. Both suffer from emotional assault every now and then. Both are injured psychologically and for a time incapacitated to understand the world around them in the prison community.
In reality, Inmates are even better situated than the prison employee. Inmates are taken cared of, while employees must have to take care of themselves. If administration is found wanting, inmates can just raise a complaint against them and presto. If an employee does this, he is deemed disloyal and gets the axe. The only advantage a prison employee has over the prisoner is his option to quit from working. The employee has the right to resign. Those he is attending to cannot do that. All else are similar and do not have any shade of difference at all.
Nelson Mandela, like former Senator Ninoy Aquino, was confined in solitary confinement for a period. The latter however was short lived and at notch luckier because he was able to bargain from strongman Marcos to be allowed to have medical treatment abroad, this after 7 years of detention. Mandela lived up to age of 92, while Aquino was shot to death at the age of 52. Both became national heroes after they died.
They served time as prisoners for their belief, for their principles, for their ambitions.
On the other end, there are those who served time with commitment, pledge and obligation.
They are the Romy Chavez and the Weng Geronimo, and many more before and after them, who served time in the prison service. Nobody knew them except their close friends, immediate family and relatives. Nobody knew when they started working in prison and nobody knew also when they retired. Both were exposed in the same environment where a Mandala and an Aquino once belonged. Both internalized the same hatred, discomfort, pain and difficulties in the prison community. When they passed away sometime ago, nobody gave a damn.
Not even the organization they offered the best and active years of their lives, except for their peers, gave some kind of ovation for their commitment as counterpart image of those sent by judicial authorities to serve time. They were just seen as a passing silhouette, an ordinary item in a highly impersonal and at times, impolite bureaucracy. No one remembers their role, no one even recalls their deeds and sacrifices, no one even wants to recollect their part in the overall structure of incarceration.
They too had their versions of having their long walk to freedom also but nobody minds them. There is no day observed for the likes of them. Not even their famous wards thought about them. There is no dedicatory, even a token shrine, built in their memory. They were literally ignored.
It is indeed an irony of ironies.