Monthly Archives: December 2015
Looking back, I wish to share a piece of personal sentiment. I have been a part of the labor force for the last 40 years and during that time there were programmed instances when we in the working class are instinctively lured towards a routine. Receiving a monthly salary is one, getting across-the-board allowances is another. As if it is not enough, there are incentives like being sent abroad for conferences or training, this on top of liberal stipend and refundable expenditures. There are also benefits like housing, scholarship and related awards and grants. The privileges are awe inspiring.
At every turn, there is something for the worker. There is the bi-annual release of the traditional windfall. There is also the the 13th month pay, cash gift ,performance bonus and the semestral adjustment of pay scale and the regular issuance of loyalty grant. One can even Monetize leave credits so that it could translate into additional moolah if loans and related credits are not enough.
Working indeed is an active procedure that makes one accomplished, proficient and yes, responsive to any economic challenge. As a worker gains seniority in his organization, he becomes influential, thoroughly connected and to a certain extent dominant. He becomes liquid and could sustain anything he would fancy.
If he is potent, active, dynamic and socially conscious, he may even receive his 15 minute fame. For a while, he may also be a celebrity in the neighborhood but once bashed, he may end up as notorious as your friendly thug in the street corner.
In the course of his status in the labor force, he gains additional friends, adherents, admirers even indulgent relatives from distant provinces besides inviting intrigues that foment opponents and a number of envious foes. Nonetheless, at the end of the year, during Yuletide season, all of those in the labor force virtually are on the splurge mode. They all have the wherewithal to deal with the prolonged Holidays.
But once the person retires, all these become memories. He is a shade similar to the vagabond, or to a vagrant, drifter, beggar, wanderer, except that he has the composure to stay put in one direction with savings on one hand and happy memoirs on the other.
In my case, while before I could easily rub elbows and identify with the working class, the labor force, that group where the leisure class evolved from, I have entered and conscripted into the army of unemployed in less a dramatic way. I am qualified to bow out from the service even if technically speaking what has been filed is an early retirement plan. That means that I am not yet subject for compulsory retirement but chose to leave the labor force voluntarily through options available.
It’s a decision and there is no turning back. I enjoyed reminiscing those days of sharing and aplenty.
But don’t get me wrong. Even if I will be dangled with offers, offers for employment/ reinstatement or even capital for business, I would still prefer giving up work. Not that there is glory in unemployment, but there is wisdom in retirement. Let the youth takes over, let those in their senior years receive their moments of contemplation. After all, their needs are no longer as sophisticated and complicated like that of the younger set.
The senior citizen can survive only through fruits. Medications are merely invention of pharmaceutical companies at times in conspiracy with hospitals so that their products can be dispensed through the ailing senior citizen. Not only takers will suffer additional ailments for additional medication but it would merely complicate what could have been a simple lifestyle of those in their twilight years.
Anyway, we probably could remember Charles Dickens novel “A Christmas Carol” where protagonist Ebenezer Scrooge, a senior citizen too, figured prominently in the story. Well, Scrooge tried to screw Christmas until in the end he was screwed.
The elderlies are one of the most vulnerable sectors of our society. They suspect that the Almighty created them so that the field of Medicine or the pharmaceutical companies will have something to sustain them. They may be exploited like anyone younger but once he contracts Alzheimer or Parkinson (whichever comes first), they won’t mind being subjected to anything else.
This is my first Christmas in four decades when Yuletide no longer spells expenditures. Since I belong now to a static world where careers are irrelevant, it goes without saying that there is nothing to splurge anymore except thoughts of years of extravagance gone by. And I swear, it is worth remembering.
I am used to handling and driving manual transmission vehicles and seldom, if at all, impressed with A/T (automatic transmission) ones. For me, the automatic is only for girls. Hindi yun maka-overtake if I am in a hurry. It could not even make the necessary adjustments when it comes to gitgitan. No way will I ever drive an automatic, more so in a traffic, congested, siksikan and gulangan sa kalye situation. Ang pagitan ng sasakyan if traffic stands still is only gapintura!
Worst, in Manila’s traffic, you will not only be engaged in eyeball-to-eyeball with fellow bantam car drivers, more than that, one must even anticipate, motorcycles, especially those driven by first timers (remember, motorbikes are selling like pan cakes and costs as cheap too), then there are bicycles, pedicabs, buses, trucks—freight and cargo trucks, the rusted and oftentimes bearing unhinged 20 footers ones, all kinds of moving and flaggingly moving vehicles not to mention a gamut of street hawkers from alm seeking natives, the physically or mentally disabled, hyper street urchins, snatchers to enterprising peanut, mineral water, fruit vendors of any color. All of them on the same street where you are navigating!
On the street, one is reminded that there is no government at all, even if for a while a traffic enforcer would materialize and like street mendicants would interest on how the driver would negotiate. It would look like an honest flag down on an erring motorist but it is actually a shake-down. That is life on the street for the typical motorist.
Now going back to automatic transmission engines, aside from its usual poor acceleration attribute when needed, once it breaks down, even the hardened towing truck would find it difficult to drag it away. More so, if it stalls in the middle of the road, any driver would find it extra difficult to push the vehicle to the nearest bend. Bukod sa nakakahiya sa mga kasama mong nakasakay, minumura ka pa ng mga taong naperwisyo sa dinulot mong trapik. Kung hindi ka naman nagmamadali at nasa kundisyon ang sasakyan, masarap gamitin ito lalo na kung mabagal ang daloy ng trapko o meron pataas na kelangan ng clutch hanging o timplahan ng clutch. Masarap talagang manehuin ang automatic cars kaya lang the hassles outweigh the advantages.
But for those like me who traverse national and provincial roads more often than urban streets, the manual transmission tops it all. It can accelerate at a momen’s notice, just lower the gear and there goes arangkada. There is no such thing as arangkada, or harurot or sudden acceleration In automatic transmission engines in the past or those previous reproductions. Well, until I got hold of the recent Mitsubishi Strada model.
In one of my long travels on the road, I found that Strada had this sudden acceleration quality. Something I discovered belatedly though. I thought for a while that all automatic transmission vehicles share the same girlish predisposition on the road, feminine, reserved and aloof. Its speed would only peak depending on the velocity of the vehicle it is trailing. But the vehicle I was handling was different. Given the space I had and right after depressing the accelerator for more push, the engine roared and my head would nearly swing back. There was the sudden acceleration I needed for to overtake and the go-ahead basket.
Contented and quite enthralled, I dreamt of owning Strada’s cousin, the majestic and superior Montero Sports. It shares the same engine type and predisposition. On Strada I looked like a COO, on Montero I would definitely project like a CEO!
A few months after, successful in haggling with the requirements from my bank, I finally got the new keys for my Automatic Transmission Montero Sports Special Edition model 2015, that SUV with retractable roof guard.
And it was a good buy and a great vehicle too. I can whiz past from any street nuisance in a jiffy as long as there is a space in front, even a small one at that to get a good position on the road. I can accelerate ng hindi nabibitin. A quality no other automatic transmission vehicles could boast from my perspective.
But there is however a downside in this new version. It requires a good and alert if not a careful and skilled driver to handle the vehicle. Not necessarily someone like being schooled to pilot an F16 jet but something like being familiar with the strokes of the pedals and the routine handling of the shifting gear before one must start the engine.
Totoong merong sudden acceleration quality ang Montero pero wala naman yung sinasabing unintended ito. If at all the vehicle zooms, it is because the driver willed or intended it to be.
Don’t even think of committing a crime. Whether you are the enforcer or within the subordinate class, it pays to follow the rules, the norms, the tradition, the ordinances, the laws. And if you happen to be the typical worker, the ordinary student or scholar, a lowly resident of an upscale village or remote barrio, a humble pedestrian, a typical professional, a serious businessman, rejoice because all of you will be spared from the hassles of disturbance with the assumption to the highest post of the “Punisher.” As a matter of fact, serenity and tranquility will become a regular fact of life in our community.
Duterte does not mince words when he claims that he would be a dictator. And by the way, that in a snap is what Philippine society needs to do in the first place, like what Dr. Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia did, like what Lee Kwan Yu of Singapore did, like what Meiji of Japan did, like what Park Chun Hi of Korea did, like what Ben Gurion of Israel did, like what Deng Shao Ping did for China. There are numerous templates to refer to, so many international models to take note of. Duterte, an astute politician and a well-informed student of law, has browsed on these prototypes and he is convinced that it is only through dictatorship that he would be able to bring the country standing on its feet.
Duterte knew that developed countries, Malaysia, Israel, Singapore, Japan were serious about peace and order from top to bottom, from A to Z, from beginning to end. He believes that commerce, a delicate mechanism of civilization, will never grow favorably in an atmosphere of danger and uncertainty. Discipline will never be fomented in an air of tolerance and negligence, of leniency and laxity,
Duterte knew for a fact that every Juan, Pedro and Pilar has been victimized by crime somewhere, somehow. That crime has grown so disproportionate to the population that offenses can be carried out with impunity. Worst, even government enforcers were seen as participants in victimizing the people. Philippine society has become a dog-eat-dog locality. Nobody is spared by crime. If a person can, with a straight face, claim that he has never been bothered by crime, that person deserves a period at the sanitarium.
Anyone living in this country, even a high schooler, discerns that crime is an unwanted disturbance but has been considered a fact of life. Hence, a number of anti-government groups would pledge instant justice to get the sympathy of a victim-prone population.
Everyone knows that the natural and endowed resources of tropical Philippines if properly managed would yield considerable wealth to the people. There is no more reason to live through crime.
For the leisure class, the term dictator however conjure images of megalomaniac leaders in the mold of Germany’s Adolf Hitler, or that of Russia’s Stalin, Indonesia’s Sukarno, Uganda’s Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Khadafy of Libya, Pol Pot of Cambodia, Duvalier of Haiti, not to mention Marcos of the Philippines, the list goes on. While they made a mark in history and made their country proud for a while, it sent their respective country’s national economy into a tailspin.
A dictator’s process is usually littered with oozing blood, more sweat and an ocean of tears for the ordinary citizen of their country if the intention was egotistical and selfish. If the agenda is to plunder, to amass, to loot the national coffers, then it is already doomed from the start.
But not all dictatorship has the same lifelines. And there are numerous models to adopt. Duterte, on the basis of how he governed Davao, is more inclined to be a Lee Kwan Yu and Mahathir, both of Malay stock and temperament. Duterte may not have the British accent of a Lee Kwan Yu nor the medical savvy of Dr. Mahathir, but they all share the same tact and political will to change what should be changed.
Filipinos, for centuries, have suffered indifference, exploitation, desertion, neglect and at times abuses. For them, government is a burden they must have to coddle, support and indulge all throughout their productive years. And if they seek redress but have no means to express it, they usually end up at the bottom. Only those with influence, only those with the resources, understand justice, while the rest has nothing to embrace.
It is fervently hoped that Duterte’s leadership will be able to address these concerns and restore the dignity of common man. Filipinos must brace themselves today, sacrifice if necessary, to assure their children of a bright future.
The movie “Terminator” shown some time ago, advanced the idea that one day, man will be pitted against the machine. And man since the early period of his civilization has been constantly involved in this engagement.
Man versus the big bike (The way stunt and daredevil bike driver Evel Knievel handled his bike in a feat no mortal could ever try but tried he did—-jumping with his bike for 151 feet high above parked cars and landing safely in a spectacularly bone-crashing manner.) . Man versus a flying machine (High flying aviator Charles Linbergh conquered the world imagination when he made a first ever solo transatlantic flight at a time when aircrafts were just being tested).
Man versus computer (Reminds us of the 6-day Chess duel between Chess world champion Anatoly Kasparov and IBM super computer Deep Blue. In the 1996 match, Kasparov won but in the 1997 rematch, the machine won.). Man versus military hardware (During the Vietnam war, the lowly Viet congs were pitted against the mighty and advance military arsenal of US. Vietnam won the war handily.) Man versus science. Man versus robots.
Although the machine is largely attributed as an invention of man, it came to a point when his power will be challenged by his creation. Like the Almighty, it came to a point when He would be disobeyed by Adam, a piece of mud given a breath of life. That started the story of mankind if the Bible is to be believed.
But let me be sanguine about certain issues in these contemporary times.
The candidates will have to brace themselves towards a gamut of challenges, from doling out goodies, handing over allowances, giving up comfort, hassling in marketplaces or plazas where there is convergence of people, everything from tinkering with tricks on how to look good through expensive advertisement to sponsoring games, conferences and the whole shebang. All for the sake of winning.
Meanwhile, Comelec will only have one problem to reckon. It is, if push comes to shove, the technical glitch in the machine. Electricity which runs the whole mechanism must be constant, continuous and unbroken, something which power distributors are wont to promise. There lies the strain. At the rate power supply is dwindling and failing, the machine will be left on its own to device its function. We become dependent on how it will conduct itself. For all we know the PCOS engine might suffer also a mechanical flaw called SUA or “sudden unintended acceleration” too!
I cannot but contemplate on this matter now that election is just a semester away. I cannot but imagine what would be the result, following the above concern, whether which would prevail in a feat of man versus machine, that is, the presidential aspirants versus the PCOS machine!
When I was invited by organizer Rene Cambal aka Ite to attend the Naranjita street party, I was all out and excited to the fullest. Accordingly, the street will be closed for traffic during the period. And it did. The reunion started as soon as the stars came out from the dark heavens. There were no dark clouds to threaten the event. The humidity pervaded the atmosphere. Instantly, the time became the usual climate for which Project 2 is known—tropical, steamy and temperate.
Had it not for the Barangay mobile according to my classmate and neighbor, Lorna, the party would have continued past 1AM.
It was a fitting day for the succeeding generation to pay homage to their founders, the first and pioneering inhabitants of their place, their parents, guardians, elders. This time around, the kids who peppered the street with boisterous voices, hyper playfulness and delinquency are now the elderlies themselves. The flower power generation has taken over the reins and it was an apt way of celebrating the good old times before the flickering light of advancing age would take over.
On my way to the airport (Davao), my emotions were on the mode for excitement. Finally , I would be able to hug, shake hands, greet, exchange high fives, chest thump ala NBA the icons of my youth— Lando Gatela aka Orlines or Barok, Ador Jaballas aka Kadoy, Gely Boy, Ite, Lorna, Aida, Elen, Berses’ brothers.
The organizers were mostly from “dulo”, a reference direction which meant at the end of the street. They comprise the active segment of youth in the 60s. My barkadas were mostly residents near the street entrance almost adjacent to the main street, Anonas. But most of them have changed residence and have settled in USA already—the Morenos, the Velascos, the Ursuas, the Andayas, the Corpuzes, the Escobars, the Santoses.
Despite the distance and time, we are constantly in touch with one another through the net. And we get our regular updates on time.
Well, sometime past, the only time when I would be able to take a glimpse of the youth from dulo was when they would choose to play half-court street basketball with us (in front of Cariaso’s house). I oftentimes would bump on the Berses brothers but when Gely would appear, it was as if an NBA star had ascended in person. Gely was an awesome figure to reckon with on the court. But when his mother would pick him up, it was curtain time for all of us. The superstar had left the scene and we would savor his style and play on our own.
During the street party, I could imagine and probably would miss some of the characters who molded our personalities. There was Chess champion Ruben Rodriguez, his younger brother Lando aka Bondying to all his playmates (including me), there was Mongking, the epitome of a juvenile delinquent, Porong and Tarat, scion of a transferee from another district but chose to stay and grow with us on the street, Jun Dee, son of a Chinese trader with a corner store. Most of them today have departed, some to life hereafter, others to some other location. In my case, while our ancestral house still proudly stands on the same spot, I chose to reside in the Southern part of the country not necessarily for a change but mostly for the adventure and lesser stress compared with a highly urbanized locality like Project 2.
I terribly miss the occasion, the December 12 street party. I may not figure out prominently in the setting but definitely, watching and appreciating my peers, the icons of my youth up-close is one opportunity I could have experienced in a lifetime. (My flight to Manila was cancelled due to the storm “Nona” and per advice, if at all our flight will be rescheduled, we should expect delay because of air traffic. Its useless to proceed therefore since I will not be able to attend on time.)
While watching the video documentary and pictures posted on Facebook, my peers looked hale and healthy, so young like they cheated time. It looked like time froze. They never grew old at all! Eexcept for the tell-tale signs of seniority, the gray hair and beard, but the gait, the posture, the swagger is still there.
I don’t know whether time would still favor us for another round of a reunion in the succeeding year. Probably the kids, who danced, they who are all children or grandchildren of my peers, may take off from where we left if only to continue the tradition. I heartily hope so.
I could only write it down so that my kids or grandkids and friends would have some reference in the event they would find time to revisit the place where their old folks earned their spurs.
Thank you friends, neighbors for the memories!
For Filipinos, while there are exceptions, generally speaking, retirement is staying put in or retreating back on their residence until the light switches off. There are countless others and I mean those in good physical shape who would rather ignore retirement even if they have reached the mandatory count. They would still be active and a select number of them would even venture into business or politics. There are no age limits in commerce or elective positions to be frank about it. It is just a matter of interest, or self-interest.
As long as they have the stomach, the patience, the endurance and the excitement of an adrenaline draining activity, the field is theirs for the taking.
In another vein, there are those who retired but were compelled to get up to respond to a calling. In the entertainment industry sometime ago, there was Dolphy. In contemporary politics, there was Rodrigo Duterte. In boxing, there was Muhamad Ali. In basketball, there was Michael Jordan. For a while, they have announced their retirement earlier but for some other reasons, they came back.
Retirement actually is a period when a person decides, or his organization adheres, to a limitation. When a person retires, he is expected to surrender everything—rank, power, influence and even the machinery where he derives his force or authority. It means passing on the torch, bowing out, surrendering or plain submission to the successor. It is inevitable. It comes as certain as the night. It is the stark reality in life. There is no such thing as entitlement when it comes to a grip on supremacy.
For the uniformed persons, its 56, like the military, police and other law enforcement officers. For those in the civil service, its 65. For the religious, I mean the priests, its 70 like those in the Judiciary. In some corporate offices in the private sector, its 45. In sports, its 35.
And there are those who retired earlier than the standard set by their respective organization or milieu. Hollywood actress Greta Garbo retired at the age of 36 and shunned public life until she died from a ripe old age without spouse and children. Nobel awardee for literature Ernest Hemmingway retired early due to debilitating ailments and alcoholism. Bill Gates, the richest man in the planet, retired early from his business to concentrate on his family’s philanthropic commitment. The list is almost endless.
A retiree sometimes retreats back with his family, or with fellow elderlies or would choose to do it alone, like hermits.
And there is the retirement home, hospice for those in need of medical and related social concerns. There are governments -run and some are privately managed. All these facilities are designed for geriatric care.
It has been said that the elderly people are very sensitive and difficult to understand. And it takes patience and understanding to appreciate their longings and requirements. Gone were the days when they can physically and economically contribute to family coffers. They are spent bullets already so to speak. If at all pension matters, it is the high cost of living which would instantly melt whatever its worth in a short while.
In western countries, care for the elderly can easily be obtained through privately managed nursing homes. Not so in this country since the elderly are usually attended to by family members themselves. Aside from the fact that distance and monthly mandatory expenditures for the subsistence, management and nutritional inputs, including medical and social services, may be burdensome to an ordinary household, the elderly himself would rather not allow himself to be separated from his family, let alone segregated from his house.
To a senior citizen, the twilight years is not only a period of reckoning, it is also a time for reflection. He is lucky if as early as his productive years, he has already anticipated the challenges and trials he will have to undergo.
As what my father, formerly a very generous man to the point of being a spendthrift and later would be so concerned with budget, would usually confide to me after he retired, “ Ayokong manghingi o kaya maging gastador. Natatakot ako baka dumating ang panahon na hindi ako mamatay kaagad!” His fears became a reality. Well, most of his peers died already, he lived to a ripe old age and never for once asked anything from anyone.
The man is serious. He is a good leader to start with. He walks the talk. He simply wants to accomplish something and that something must be effective.
When he was prodded to run for the highest post of the land, he simply noted. Should he run, it must be on the basis of what he intends to do to his country and constituencies. He never pretended to be an advocate who wish to step up and be considered lily clean or saintly to get attention. He presented himself, warts and all, morally defective as it were, thug-like even, without finesse, expressions uncouth and even irreligious. He wanted the people, the electorate, to see him as bare as possible, nude if need it, to appreciate his being. If in the process the electorate would elect him, he wanted them to check his very person. He wanted them to see for themselves the real character of the one they intend to follow. He likewise wanted the people to see the man who intends to whip them into the line.
In reality, he was never brash at all. He is prim, proper, old school and soft spoken. A lady’s man never would venture characteristically along abrasive lines. If at all he was seen as such, it was just for show to discourage the uninitiated.
Accordingly, he lived a barbaric life and disliked it. Now he wanted if given the chance to erase barbarism as a way of life. He had that moment when he was elected Mayor of Davao and indeed, barbaric as he was, he immediately dismantled barbarism in the face of Davao as he did on himself earlier.
His expression when forced to comment on his application for Presidency was unemotional. Accordingly, he will never lose sleep if he loses. As a matter of fact, he was never excited at all in filing his certificate of candidacy. It was merely if not largely a friendly accommodation, not even close to commitment. It was just one of those days in his storied life as a politician. Nothing more.
During his acceptance speech, he even tried to project a persona which militates against the taste of the leisure class, that influential group composed of the manicured and sheltered folks. He never even campaigned and would rather predicate his speech with “Better not vote for me at all.” It is not an expression of confidence; it was more of cajoling the pedestrians never to get serious with him.
Being elected to the highest post for Duterte is no longer a problem if survey results are to be relied upon. He would get a high mark and higher acceptance.
Duterte succeeded in Davao kasi ang tao dun seryoso. On a national scale, it’s different. Sabi nila ang Pinoy daw karamihan puro pasaway. Duterte may use Israel, Singapore and Korea as template for pushing the country towards progress. He has got the will, chutzpah and the temper anyway.
Duterte’s mettle is therefore to be proven not on the basis of being elected but on the score whether he will last longer.
Just a semester away after I officially tendered my application for retirement, I thought of gifting myself with a brand new car. After all, I would be a recipient of retirement benefits later so no problem.
After a few transacting weeks, the bank gave me the signal and there I was behind the wheel of a spanking gray Mitsubishi Automatic Transmission, Montero Sports, GLS V, Special Edition, model 2015. I felt like an Arab prince, a sheik touring the vast dessert.
While I was savoring the feeling of success having for the first time driving a brand new vehicle with almost zero kilometer reading on its speedometer, media exploded with news that Montero cars are deadly machines, one that runs on its own and considered a monster on the street. A term SUA or “Sudden Unintended Acceleration” became a buzz word among car aficionados and the united complaints of Montero owners who virtually had experienced it peppered the airwaves. They all figured out in a near fatal accident for themselves and fatal for those unfortunate pedestrians while the vehicle was running amuck. They want the company to shut down and compel government not to allow Montero cars to traverse the street.
There was even a call for a resolution for government to discourage prospective buyers not to procure Montero until after a thorough investigation has been concluded.
For a while, I was taken aback. This is old hat I know and if at all the vehicle is that defective, then there is reason for a mass recall of all units. I was prepared to re-wrap everything in cellophane and surrender the vehicle. For me, it is better to have a brand new car which would eventually be recalled, than not having one at all!
But I still have my reservations despite the reported deficiencies leading to lethal misfortunes. I still believe that it is more a driver error than mechanical or technical. No, I am not defending the company; not a bit just because I happen to have one unit of the controversial subject. I am merely explaining not to expiate myself from being a fool of a consumer but let me put it this way.
Suppose I have a state of the art firearm. Suppose I mishandled it and claimed that it exploded without my intention of firing it although in handling something with advanced features may have triggered it due to ignorance. And in the process, something was hit. Example, a glass window. Can I use the defense that the gun had a “sudden unintended shot”, a defect of the firearm and the fault of the gun manufacturer?
The same can be said of Montero sports utility vehicles. It has advanced features, something which is not a regular attribute of cars with automatic transmission. There is indeed a quality of “harurot” or instant “arangkada” or sudden acceleration if the driver wants it. If manual driven cars must have to lower their gear to increase acceleration, in AT cars, the driver needs only to step on the gas and there goes the kick.
Unlike in previous automatic transmission vehicles which could not make successful overtakes because the engine was not designed for instant acceleration, such vehicles usually suffer accidents. The case of Vandolf Quizon while driving an automatic Ford ISO pick up. His car failed to accelerate while overtaking until he got caught with an incoming vehicle. As he swerved, his car fell down a precipice and his passenger, his girf friend, perished in the accident and Vandolf nearly came out almost lifeless.
Car manufacturers improved on their products. AT engines need not be a female driven animal which is passive on the street. It could also be a beast, a racing monstrosity if prodded. Hence, the Montero, or “Monstero” if you will. A sports utility vehicle that will never be left behind if threatened or shy away if challenged to a sprint. To a driver unfamiliar with the advanced features, the vehicle is a dangerous machine.
I have had several service cars before and it served me well—a two-door Toyota Corolla Coupe, a 4-door Toyota Corona, a 4-door sedan Toyota Crown, a 5-door Toyota LiteAce, a pick up Toyota Ranger Truck, 2 vintage Volkswagen sedans, a big bike (Yamaha Virago 1100cc), a street cruiser motorbike, an automatic Yamaha motorbike, an L300 Mitsubishi van, most of these units are still in good running condition. And what made all these serviceable vehicles tough is that all of them were bought second-hand. Well, that was my impression although my suspicion says it could have been handed down several times over. But it made my profession as administrator and lecturer, student and scholar, friend and lover smooth and relaxing. I could go places in a manner I wanted to unlike when commuting.
And so for years, I have to take the wheels, engage all kinds of road condition, be it wide or narrow, dangerously slippery and rugged, …. I learned to drive at the age of 14 but it was that period when I reach the age of 26 that I got myself a car of my own. And the vehicles aside from the attention heaped onto it on a daily basis for repair and observation, there was the threat also of getting stalled for no reason at all, given its numerous defects due to age and overwork. I became almost a wizard as an automotive mechanic as a result but of course, there was the dream of owning something that just came out of the factory fresh and new.
Well, that day came and here I am taming a monster!
When I visited Davao for the first time in 1985 and eventually settled in late 2000s, there was nothing extraordinary to speak of, well, except for the fact that its native citizens were already before and up to the present, the same honest, hardworking and truthful kind.
It is a far cry from any other urban area or from the metropolis (Manila) where I came from. There was little abuse, so insignificant an exploitation and no flagrant harm on the psyche of the people and its vast environment. In Manila, one must be shrewd to survive and succeed. Over in Davao, there is no need to outsmart anyone because the playing field is level whether one is native or a migrant. In Manila, aside from hard work, one must also be wise. In Davao, hard work is defined with honesty.
In Manila, if you buy a watermelon, the chances are, the fruit to you pointed at will be replaced through sleight of hand once it is wrapped. In Davao, if you pointed at a fruit and the storekeeper noticed that it is about to get spoiled, would warn you immediately and would replace it with a good one.
The people of Davao have retained their old school mentality despite social, cultural and political changes. They can be trusted upon; they are reliable, consistent and unfailing. These are qualities which may have been bred by the bountiful resources within their reach, the unspoiled natural geographic and physical assets it is surrounded with and the eclectic retention of good values from different religious and ideological influences. The bad ones are easily discarded and the good ones instantly absorbed.
Politics had nothing to do with the good quality of Davao except that its greatness can only be enhanced through good local government leadership. If there is a good leader, Davao’s profile is amplified. If it has a bad leader, Davao folks would just coast along unaffected. Business is thriving because the workers are its principal strength. People just love to work and their workplace treated as a sacred ground. There is no other facet of management worth appreciating than human resource development. Employment is held as an important segment of social life and nobody fucks around to destroy that revered labor climate.
Davao has a number of ethnic tribes within its fold. And one finds it very interesting to note that the Lumad, the group that camped out in Baclaran sometime ago during the Papal and Apec events, were the same Lumad ethnic group who came all the way from Mindanao complaining about the abuses they were exposed to from Military-NPA operations in their mountain lair. It has been said that the Lumad tribe is genetically linked to an extinct specie of humans that thrived 41,000 years ago in Sibera and South East Asia. DNA test yields that Lumad shared a common nuclear genome with that of the so-called Neanderthal man. Ang dugo pala nitong mga natibo dito sa Davao mas matanda pa sa mga characters sa Biblia!
No wonder, modern man of Davao derives its collective strength from indigenous people who survived from centuries of fatal social, political, cultural changes, wars, calamities, epidemic, human folly.
It’s interesting to reside within this background after all.
I was having a perspiring day in my mini gym when my errand lunged forward as if to interfere in my solo ball game. Accordingly, he was a few blocks away to buy me a pack of cigarette when he witnessed someone being fired upon at close range. The victim had just unloaded his son from his car at the gates of the school when a casually dressed man walked by, pointed the gun at the driver and fired a single shot. The victim throttled his car but the gunman further peppered the car with more shots, most of which found its target on the prey rendering the man behind the wheels lifeless instantly.
The incident drove the people; mostly students scampering away from the commotion as the gunman slowly walked towards his motorbike and normally sped away.
The school, the site of the murder, was a few blocks away from my residence. I remember last year, one of my personnel was also gunned down in a similar fashion, gun, bike and the unhurried get-away . To think that my place was a placid, sleepy type of a town makes it a location impossible to host violence but there it was. The irony of it is further amplified by the fact that most residents in the area are not the controversial, provocative or notorious kind.
Well, none of the residents would figure in the violence and only those transient would get the comeuppance. What is perplexing though is the kind of viciousness expressed in those violent streaks. It is more urban than rural, more metropolitan than municipal.
I am not worried though. I am neither apprehensive about the situation. It merely reminded me of my past. I worked in prison for almost four decades and the feeling was deja vu.
And I mean I spend most of the time, occasionally taking my meals in the prison camp a few paces away from the meanest, callous, coldhearted, those the judicial system have segregated from the free community because of their vicious acts and there I was with them. I knew for a fact that while eating, those incorrigible types ogling at me may want to gobble me up. Well, they were also aware that I could also to the same to them. Psychologically, a stalemate if I may submit. I had no reservations. Actually, I had no worries, no sweat, no fear at all. Just projecting to the prison community that here is one person who understands their plight, unafraid to promote what is left of humanity in their souls.
And unlike Manila’s Dirty Harry, Alfredo Lim or Davao’s Punisher, Rodrigo Duterte who impress people with their iron fist and fearsome disposition in front of arrested criminals, surrounded by armed squad, I was oftentimes inside the prison compound during my prime, at the heart of the convicts’ lair, alone, without body guards or armed sentinel while effectively making my rounds. A single violent incident in the neighborhood will definitely not unsettle me at all.
That is right. I just retired and came out of death’s door a brief summertime ago. And anything that spells mayhem around merely reminds me of the melody which gave my youth and adulthood, those times in prison work, that crime and innocence are one and the same.
Sometimes, one’s past would haunt if only as reminiscence of a person’s present.