Monthly Archives: July 2016

WHY PRISON GUARDS ARE ALWAYS BLAMED

vjt and prison guards

This is one question that baffled me for some time.  I was a security officer for almost four decades and I made my career implementing prison rules.  Like prison guards who are my direct subordinates, we merely reflect the principles and guidance of our administrators, they who were appointed politically.  If administrators do not know anything about the nuances of Corrections, they pass on to us nothing but speculative policies.   And since politics dictate the identity and persona of the prison leadership, they who admittedly know nothing about prison work, nothing actually is passed on us.  Once the prison leadership on the other hand learns the rope and acquires more insights thus attuned to the realities of institutional problems, a change in the political configuration dictate that they should be replaced.

Several illustrious men from the warrior class took over but all of them know nothing about prison work.  All of them, as a consequence, merely coasted along.  All this time, prison officers acted merely on signal and never allowed to post any response for it might be interpreted as overbearing.

I tried doing that—advising the prison leadership— but I constantly would be thrown into limbo, not suspended though but always in the freezer, floating and given one insignificant task after another.  My junior officers have better ideas but they cannot make a step further for fear that they might also be floated like me.  I have achieved a higher post but my subordinate officers are as yet to be promoted, hence their silence.

I was never remiss in advising the prison leadership on the temper of the prison community.  I have never reneged in reminding them, proposing as a matter of fact, that there is a need to abolish the segregation procedure according to gang affiliation.  I oftentimes would submit an advisory that money in prison camp should be declared as contraband to dampen its use as a tempting mechanism.  And, a lot more.  The prison leadership, well, almost all of them, do not like the idea since, accordingly, it would rock the boat so to speak and spawn violence.

One prison leadership would replace another until the prison community would evolve into an unmanageable municipality.  Prison gangs would rule and everyone interacting in the facility—-be they prison officers, volunteers, civic groups, church people—are merely used as pawn if not a cog to keep communal carnal agenda aflame.

Prisons guards are at the bottom of the so called Prison Food Chain.  May I share the following stories on why this is so?

A rookie prison guard while patrolling the corridor of the maximum wing in NBP noticed a group of inmates playing mahjong.  He castigated the inmates and confiscated the gambling paraphernalia.  The inmates repaired back to their dormitory if only to plan for retributive action.  They selected a frail looking inmate and convinced him to put shallow bruises on his body.  Then the group brought the inmate to the hospital and asked for a medical certification.  A complaint against the rookie personnel was lodged complete with medical certification as proof and several witnesses alleging that the inmate was mauled and maltreated.  An administrative case was deliberated and rookie guard was summarily dismissed from the service.

There was another instance.  A seasoned prison guard was directed to head the group in conducting a raid on the cell of an inmate believed to be a supplier of drugs and other contrabands in the prison camp.  After the raid, the guard presented as proof several sachets of party drugs, dried marijuana and shabu.  An investigation was promptly conducted.  The inmate on whose possession the contrabands were confiscated made a statement that he admits to have it in safekeeping as per instruction of the seasoned guard who conducted the raid.  The seasoned guard was dismissed from the service.

One of the strictest guards was posted at the control gate.  He was the personal pick of his training supervisor for his no-nonsense posture in frisking.  One day, a karaoke juke box was about to be brought in and he immediately flagged it down.  The bearer claimed that he was under instruction by the Director to bring the unit inside.  Strict guard did not buy the alibi.  Bearer reported to the Director and strict guard was sent to Leyte prison the next day.  The story never ended that way. 

A few months after, the Director was replaced and strict guard was able to get back to his former post once again.  While manning the gates, a visitor was dragging a karaoke machine intended for use in the prison compound, to which the gate officer, having been penalized before for his stern posture when it comes to gadgets, instantly opened the gates and allowed the entry.  A representative of the new director saw the unusual practice and it was immediately reported.  The next the day, the guard got an order for him to proceed to Leyte once again!

And just recently, after media spun a story, which was fed as intelligence report that prison guards allegedly allowed imprisoned drug lords to conduct their nefarious business in distributing drugs to the free community through cyberspace, hell broke loose.  It is not law enforcement, it is not drug enforcement vigilance, it is not crime syndicates, IT IS the prison guards who are culpable.  The perception is that it is the prison guards who made criminality in the country alive and kicking.  They who are a handful in charge of a bloated and congested facility, incredibly less equipped, unguided by policy direction, almost unprotected from epidemic of contagious diseases, exposed in the hazards of the most dangerous sector of our society, constantly harassed and seen if not treated as a lesser mortal in the totem pole of public service.  Their remuneration is way below those of their counterparts.  They might as well be fitted in the role as the most blameworthy group for all we know.

So you see, those in the prison service are not an inch higher than those they are guarding.  They are equally sharing the billing as underdogs in the theater of injustice too.

 

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THE PHILIPPINES, MY COUNTRY

vjt porma

There are a lot of negative issues haunting the country but from where I stand, I see something different, a wonderful one.

You can check this out too.

A little over than 7,641 islands make up our Philippines, but the bulk of its fast-growing population lives on just 11 of them.

The Philippines’ location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and close to the equator makes the Philippines prone to earthquakes and typhoons, but also endows it with abundant natural resources and some of the world’s greatest biodiversity.

A 2005 report has described the Philippines as the epicenter of marine biodiversity, with the richest concentration of marine life on the entire planet.

Luzon has “the world’s largest collection of unique mammal species.”

The Philippines has an area of approximately 300,000 square kilometers (115,831 sq mi), and a population of more than 100 million with faster growth than any other east Asian country.   It is the seventh-most populated country in Asia and the 12th most populated country in the world. An additional 12 million Filipinos live overseas, comprising one of the world’s largest Diasporas.

The nation’s large population and economic potential have led it to be classified as a middle power. It is a founding member of the United Nations, World Trade Organization, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and the East Asia Summit. It also hosts the headquarters of the Asian Development Bank.   The Philippines is considered to be an emerging market and a newly industrialized country, which has an economy transitioning from being one based on agriculture to one based more on services and manufacturing.

Relations with other nations are generally positive. Shared democratic values ease relations with Western and European countries while similar economic concerns help in relations with other developing countries. Historical ties and cultural similarities also serve as a bridge in relations with Spain.   Despite issues such as domestic abuse and war affecting overseas Filipino workers, relations with Middle Eastern countries are friendly as seen in the continuous employment of more than two million overseas Filipinos living there.

The Philippines is divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. These are divided into 18 regions, 81 provinces, 145 cities, 1,489 municipalities, and 42,029 barangays.

Its 36,289 kilometers (22,549 mi) of coastline makes it the country with the 5th longest coastline in the world.

The Galathea Depth in the Philippine Trench is the deepest point in the country and the third deepest in the world. The trench is located in the Philippine Sea.

 

A more serene legacy of the geological disturbances is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River, the area represents a habitat for biodiversity conservation, the site also contains a full mountain-to-the-sea ecosystem and has some of the most important forests in Asia.

The country is estimated to have the second-largest gold deposits after South Africa and one of the largest copper deposits in the world.

The Philippines’ rainforests and its extensive coastlines make it home to a diverse range of birds, plants, animals, and sea creatures. It is one of the ten most biologically megadiverse countries.

The Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu Sea was declared a World Heritage Site in 1993. Philippine waters also sustain the cultivation of the world’s biggest pearls,gigantic crabs, and  exotic varieties of seaweeds.

The Philippine economy is the 39th largest in the world.

After World War II, the Philippines was for a time regarded as the second wealthiest in East Asia, next only to Japan. In the 1960s its economic performance started being overtaken. The economy stagnated under the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos as the regime spawned economic mismanagement and political volatility. The country suffered from slow economic growth and bouts of economic recession. Only in the 1990s with a program of economic liberalization did the economy begin to recover.

The economy is heavily reliant upon remittances from overseas Filipinos, which surpass foreign direct investment as a source of foreign currency.

Goldman Sachs includes the country in its list of the “Next Eleven” economies but China and India have emerged as major economic competitors.   Goldman Sachs estimates that by the year 2050, it will be the 20th largest economy in the world.   HSBC also projects the Philippine economy to become the 16th largest economy in the world, 5th largest economy in Asia and the largest economy in the South East Asian region by 2050.

The Philippines bought its first satellite in 1996.   In 2016, the Philippines first micro-satellite, Diwata-1 was launched aboard the US Cygnus spacecraft.

The Philippines has a sophisticated cellular phone industry and a high concentration of users. Text messaging is a popular form of communication and, in 2007, the nation sent an average of one billion SMS messages per day. Over five million mobile phone users also use their phones as virtual wallets, making it a leader among developing nations in providing financial transactions over cellular networks.

According to the official count the population of the Philippines hit 100 million at the time of midnight on July 27, 2014, making it the 12th country to reach this number.

Metro Manila is the most populous of the 12 defined metropolitan areas in the Philippines and the 11th most populous in the world as of 2007, census data showed it had a population of 11,553,427, comprising 13% of the national population.

In 2011 Manila ranked as the 28th wealthiest urban agglomeration in the world and the 2nd in Southeast Asia.  Davao has maintained the status as the safest city not only in the country but also in Southeast Asia.

The Philippines is an officially secular state, although Christianity is the dominant faith.  Catholic Church data from 2015 found that about 82.9% of the population professed Catholicism.

Islam is the second largest religion. The Muslim population of the Philippines was reported as about 5% of the total population according to census returns in 2000.

The Philippines is the biggest supplier of nurses for export.

The Philippines has a simple literacy rate of 95.6%, with 95.1% for males and 96.1% for females. The Philippines has a functional literacy rate of 86.45%, with 84.2% for males and 88.7% for females in 2008. Literacy in females is greater than in males.

Internationally, Philippines has been well documented for its successes in beauty pageants. Binibining Pilipinas is a closely followed event throughout the country, and Philippines has received 1 Miss World, 3 Miss Universe, 5 Miss International, 3 Miss Earth, and 1 Miss Supranational titles making it the first country to complete all five major titles.

It has the only national hero in the world that started a Revolution through incendiary literary works written in a foreign Language.

BASTA I LOVE MY COUNTRY.

 

BOXING AS A LEGISLATIVE JOKE

vjt boxer 2

Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao, 37, 8th Division Boxing World Champion, awardee of Doctorate Degree on Humanities (Honoris Causa) from Southwestern University, former Congressman, retired athlete.

Ooops!  Wait a minute.   He announced his retirement from boxing a few summers ago before he filed his candidacy for the Senate and now with a twist, contemplating to fight anew after winning a Senate seat?

He won and placed 7th in the field of 12 among 50 candidates.   He won over great political names the likes of Serge Osmena, Tito Guingona,  Neri Colmenares, Susan Ople, Lorna Kapunan, etc.   He won convincingly with almost 16 million votes from a stars truck constituency—the same bulk of voters who probably elected the likes of Lito Lapid, Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla; they who probably wished that government will be managed by Rene Requiestas, Panchito, Babalu, Cachupoy, except that the wisdom of these thespians never forced them to an adoring public who are mostly idiots.

I have nothing against an extraordinary athlete whose stride gave the Philippines a significant spot in the field of sports in the global arena.  There is actually nothing erroneous in the choice of Pacquaio as a political leader.  He can handpick the best minds among legal luminaries in Asia and the best thinker in the academe to help him flesh out the best policy for his countrymen and thereafter, come up with a comprehensive law uplifting the nation’s quality of life.  He can also use his celebrity status in tapping scientists and great legal minds abroad as consultant in formulating laws.  The possibilities are great with Pacquaio at the helm.  The country would likely benefit from his name alone never mind his mental acuity.

He was a valuable jewel in the political machinery of VP Binay, a crowd drawer, a phenomenal personality that can attract even the skeptics.  He was also the choice of then Presidential contender Du30.  To a nation embellished with scandals, buried in corrupt practices, abused and exploited, the figure of a self-made man like Pacquaio is like a whiff of fresh air.  His victory alone makes the ordinary man, struggling to keep his skin and bones together, entertained fully.  Just like reel heroes who were also elected out of desperation and perhaps a complete break from the monotonous scholars who never made the country any prouder, Pacquiao’s triumph may as well signal relief.

That was the principal belief when he was elected as Congressman.  What happened however was, his tight schedule as athlete never gave him the phase to legislate.  He was absent most of the time.  He chose to hone up his physical condition, a routine which he cannot do if he attends to his regular legislative work load.  Whatever results he may have received however, it is always positive for the country.  He would rather be fit as sports ambassador rather than legislator.

And now as senator, Manny promised his constituency that he had folded up his globes.  No more fight from thereon according to him.  He would rather offer his decision on his worried mother and family.  Most of all, to the electorate.  He would champion the cause of the poor with his legislative intents and performance.

Barely has the Senate opened its door for the newly elected, and barely has the newly minted senator found his seat in the august body, an offer from Las Vegas (or was it MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay)  was made.  He must fight again according to his manager.  There is nothing to worry according to his sponsor because Manny will fight while Senate is on recess.  And so during those few weeks, Manny will compress and daily for 24 hours without sleep prepare his body for the grueling fight?

Prize fighting indeed has its own temptation, lure and enticement.  There was a challenge but of course it is the purse which makes it more laudable, never mind the political commitment and social backlash of the acceptance.

What would leave us breathless except for the fact there is another looming fist-to-rama in the horizon, featuring an aging athlete (reaching the 30s in sports is like attaining the status of a senior citizen already in the ordinary world) pitted against  another upstart in the boxing universe.  Whether Pacquiao wins or loses does not matter anymore.  His 8th Division feat could no longer be erased, well, unless some good athlete in the future would be able to duplicate if not overtakes the record.  Pacquaio’s triumph or defeat could no longer count once the prize money has been delivered; it is the loss of his constituent that makes the hard and agonizing truth unbearable to comprehend.

Here is an elected senator, getting paid for by people’s money and still getting paid by money from the boxing tills.  He is twice awarded for his enterprise.  A lucky person indeed, something unheard of in developed countries with matured government leadership.

But don’t get me wrong.  I am not bashing Pacquaio.  For me he is The Manny Pacquaio, the most prodigious Filipino boxer of my generation.  I would protect his reputation with mine.  I would hail him to high heavens out of respect.  He is the sportsman of every sportsman.  He is my logo of fairness in competition.  He always fights the good fight.  He was not only good, he is great.

Of course, MY Pacquaio is different from the politician Pacquaio.   And it cannot be reconciled.  I have never mistaken a sculptor as a surgeon.  No way.

While his people regale at his exploits in his homeland, in a faraway land, this is seen an ordinary case of a legislative joke.

WHAT IF CHINA INVADES THE PHILIPINES

vjt and mao

Several countries before laid a hand on the Philippines.  Firstly, there were the Arabs, they who brought Islam on the shore of the archipelagic islands which Spain after its invasion called it Las Islas Filipinas.  Chinese merchants were already there in every phase of Philippine social life whether under foreign tutelage or basically under traditional nay tribal condition.  Then the Americans bought the country from Spain and after 500 years under Hispanic rule, the Filipinos became another picture of Hollywood for another 50 years.  Then the Japs came and made the country  a theater of violence when they engaged the Allied Forces in what became known as World War II for a while.

Thereafter, there was peace.  The Philippine Republic was born.  The Philippine society is an amalgam of different influences—Oriental, Mediterranean, European, Western.  The blood of Filipinos also is a mixture of various racial contributions making the Filipino a phenomenal attraction of the world.  No wonder, it is home to the most beautiful women in the universe.  Furthermore, it has more singer per square kilometer than anywhere else in the world.

The Filipinos are not only the most resilient specie in Asia, it is also the most tolerant cultural sampling in Southeast Asia.  In a park full of people from all over the world, try to whistle aloud and chances are, only Filipinos will respond looking at your direction searching for a sign and with a smile.  Can you beat that?

The Philippines is a marvelous country in the tropics with verdant forest, extravagant natural resources, a geographic spectacle and almost at the heart of the planet.  Recent survey would declare that the country is home for the most beautiful island in the cosmos.  It is the most stunning place a superpower must invade historical evidence would show.

Having said that, China is now looming at the horizon casting a moistened eye on some Philippine islands.  As a matter of fact, it has built facilities in islands situated in zones where other Southeast Asian countries are also contesting for a piece of action.  Not to be outdone, Chinese authorities went all out to expand some islands through reclamation.  This at a time when there is even a case lodge by Philippine government for UN court ruling.  (UN handed down the decision that islands which China has claimed belong to the Philippines.)

There were opinions, some positive others negative.  If diplomacy fails to contain the emotional content of the territorial dispute, this may lead towards hostilities.  The Philippines is never known for its military superiority.  Neither it is good at negotiation.  We are subservient when it comes to foreign affairs.  Only a few can lay claim on specialization but government is generally frail.

Now, what if China out of extreme anxiety or ethnic superiority as an economic behemoth, invades the country?  But of course this is far fetching a situation.  China took the long legal route to reclaim from Britain the colony of HongKong.  Chinese government had a great headache invading Tibet.  Taiwan, long considered an island of Mainland China, remains autonomous.  If at all China intends to invade a specific territory, it would do it through economic means and not militarily.  As it were, China has virtually invaded developed countries with cheap goods and gadgets.  From their aggressive economic posture, it has gained the reputation of attaining the status of a superpower already even without firing a single shot.  The Philippines is just a minor spot in its invasive plans if at all it has any.

However, granting for the sake of argument that China decides to take over Philippine government and annex the country as a satellite territory, what would happen to the country when this happens?

Since the richest and the most accomplished businessmen in the country are fundamentally of Chinese nationality, there is little adjustment.  Considering the fact that there are also numerous government officials and functionaries who are of Chinese extract running the second economic and political layer, there is also minor adjustment.   From hairpin to shampoo, from microchip to computer, from a lowly basin to a high end washbowl, almost everything is manufactured in China.  Hence, there is nothing much to complain.

This necessitated a joke about a child who asked his father about what the kid learned in school.  The child confronted his father and asked how come if God created everything according to his teacher, how come everything he sees has a mark Made in China!

If at all there is a change in government it is most likely a semblance of Communism since Mainland China is under communist rule since 1949 and has since been reinventing State policies that suit its economic profile and encouraging other States to follow suit.  Despite the fact that communism has been disregarded and declared obsolete in the Eastern Bloc where Russia was once a fountainhead, it is only the Philippines where communist back insurgency is still alive.  Again, there is little to worry.

On the whole, government will not have a radical departure from what we have.  Sometime past, our President was of Chinese extract (a Conjuanco), we had a Chief Justice also of Chinese extract ( a Teehangkee), an Archbishop (Sin), and even our national hero (Jose Rizal who is a Chua).  Bruce Lee and Jacky Chan are still icons and Kung Fu Panda remains a blockbuster movie.

Not much changes, except that we will retain as vassals of another country no matter how we are related and for as long as we remain fragmented.

 

ISLANDS FOR RENT

philippine islands

Whoever thought that some Philippine islands may be rented out is a genius!   Well, it came to a pass that there was some kind of realization somewhere and that government is contemplating on this matter of allowing islands to be utilized for economic purposes. The Philippine archipelago comprises about 7,500 islands, of which only about 2,000 are inhabited.

I remember some years ago, when there was no Chinese occupation yet on those islands/islets scattered in West Philippine Sea, I proposed that some islands in the Spratlys may be utilized as penal farms.  I was ignored.  I repeated my proposal a couple of years ago, if only to push government to show the world that those uninhabited islands are ours, I was dressed down.  Worst, I was even threatened with administrative charges.  Accordingly, I should not open my mouth for I might complicate the relation of the country with that of China.  I retired since then.

The point actually is to use the islands to our advantage.  Renting out a thousand of these islands,  if government could not make something out of it, could provide the country billions of dollars in revenues instantly.

Government can even dispose of the income tax of  all its citizenry like what Brunei did.  It can virtually abolish the so called poverty line since the country will be awashed with resources for the maintenance and support of its economic programs.  The country may even become a Welfare State like those in Western Europe and Scandinavia where everyone is supported by the State.

Newly appointed economic adviser Ramon Jacinto correctly proposed that one of these islands, like Busuanga in Palawan, is bigger than Singapore and Hong Kong and may be leased like what the country did to US when it allowed the construction of a military base in Pampanga.

This time around, those who rented the islands can impose its own rules, culture and even ethnographic belief system in its commercial undertaking.  Filipinos need not go overseas anymore since business ventures in these chosen islands follow several conditions, aside from the cost of rental, the mandatory employment of Filipinos into the labor force, an approach which is very Malaysian.

Investors will come in droves and there will be a boon in employment possibilities.

We can have our own version of Singapore’s Sentosa Island, replicate USA Cook’s Island, Bahama’s Pilot Island, Hawaii’s Molokai Island, Greek’s Elafonissi Island, Lebanon’s Palm Island, the possibilities are endless.  And what makes the entire proposition attractive for investors is the fact that the country is in the tropics!

There will be no more mad scrambles to get passports and visas, no more cases of illegal recruitment, a bane and curse which bedeviled hundreds if not thousands of our countrymen.  No more selling of properties and resources as investment just so a family member can work abroad.  No more instances where a countryman would fly out of the window abroad in desperation if not outright murder by cruel employers.  No more disintegration of family members whenever one moves out to struggle in a foreign land.

Today, if that happens, is truly a period worth hoping for.

Finally, I could stay in just one corner expecting the next generation to be prosperous and flourishing; a situation which all senior citizens could afford to dream unmolested.

NOT A VOTE WASTED IN DU30

vjt duterte vote

An editorial said this:

“MONDAY BROUGHT news of yet another apparent vigilante killing, this time with a twist. The extrajudicial murders that exploded with President Duterte taking office and the kicking into high gear of his avowed brutal war on crime and drugs has, until now, seen most victims dumped in outlying areas, usually bound, wrapped in packing tape and with a crude cardboard sign identifying the person as a “pusher” or “addict.”

But listen to this.

If there is a correlation between lowlife, narcotics, crime and extrajudicial killings, then what has been piled up as product of vigilante or police response to communal threat may have drastically reduced criminality in the streets.  Finally, it can be gainsaid that government won for the pedestrian the peace of mind in traversing its pathways.

Before, the street is a snatcher’s expressway, the bullies’ paradise, the scammers’ hunting ground.  It is a favorite campus where hawkers, vendors and street urchin including homeless people would gather and converge.  It is the pedestrian, the student and daily commuters mostly who are prey in this environ and government, including the police, could not make things right except record the violence and crime committed in these areas.  The street belonged to criminals or those who are passionate in committing crimes.

Well, not anymore.  To start with, at least from the beginning of Du30 administration the street is safer.  True, it was a violent process.  Curfew was imposed.  Arrest of drug suspects was the order of the day.  Those who resist viciously were met with equal brutality.  Vigilantes from the netherworld came in also in the picture and death was everywhere.  Hell broke loose and suddenly, one can see order in the streets, there is semblance of cleanliness and harmony.

I am reminded of the great Chairman Deng Xiao Ping of Red China who once said, when questioned about his unorthodox method, “I don’t care whether the cat is black or white as long as it catches the mice!”    From thereon China never looked back and it became one of the superpowers of the world.

It seemed like the old conservative laws like human rights and anti-torture never protected the common man before.  It seemed that said provisions merely served as sanctuary of the abusive, foul and obnoxious kind in the community.  Even law enforcers were adamant to flex their muscles for fear that they might violate the laws.  Some of them would rather sigh “if you cannot lick ‘em, join ‘em.”  Thus, the world became the playground of criminal syndicates.

It took courage, okay braggadocio if you may, to challenge the established foul order.  A line has been drawn, the new government was pleading the offensive sector to surrender, seeking a middle ground but it was met with skepticism.  And why not?  Previous administrations fell short and merely gave motherhood statements without addressing the whole problem.  Meanwhile, the common man remained at the bottom of the food chain.  In the estimation of the people, political will was never meant for action.

Then the unexpected happen.  Thousands of people linked with drug use and peddling came in droves to surrender.  Thousands are still trooping in barangays all over the country in submission and with resolve to kick out the habit and dispose of the illegal practice.  People from a cross section not only sought advice and government intervention but also pledge to get straight.

There are more revelations.  Not only are lowly police patrolmen kowtowing with crime syndicates, there are proofs that their superiors are directly linked to the illegal drug trade itself!  Not only common tricycle drivers inured in drug addiction but their political leaders as well!  It seemed like the whole national fiber has been tainted with illegal drug transactions.  An unfortunate social profile which may lead us to conclude that indeed what we have is a narco state in living color.

Good grief, there are political changes and real changes happening.  And it came at a time during my twilight years.  It’s sad that my parents never enjoyed the sight of their perpetrators pushing each other to reach Hell but it’s a consolation since my children and their children would benefit from the changes being undertaken in their favor.

If there indeed is a war against crime which has been honestly launched at this time, then I could already see the triumph of good versus evil.  Filipinos, a majority of them, have joined the struggle and they know, like their counterparts abroad,  they can sustain the discipline needed for the country to achieve a higher and consistent level of development.

No, I am not trying to be a bootlicker, a sycophant or trying to get attention.  I have retired and no longer wish to be counted.  I am just excited in this time where real alterations on the national psyche are taking place.  Here in Davao there is virtual peace and order which may be replicated anywhere requiring control.

In Metro Davao, criminals fear the people.  In Metro Manila, it is the people who are fearful of criminals.  But I believe that one day sooner, there will be no more crimes lurking around.  I believe that one day, prosperity will come and that being poor will just be a matter of choice not as a destiny.

TWERKING LIKE BATMAN

vjt as batman

The Philippines was like Gotham City before Du30 came, corruption ridden, chaos on the rise and criminal violence the order of the day and like Batman who was, comics legend tells us as the only son, same in my case, and whose parents  like those of Batman’s, were victims of criminality too.

I thought that brutality of crime was only in comics or in movies.  I was wrong.

This is my story.

Years ago when my father was still a faculty of Philippine College of Criminology, he was some kind of a showman when lecturing.  All his jewelries were all over him, a 24k necklace with half an inch thick gold cross, a solid gold watch (actually it was mine, given by my maternal uncle as birthday gift), a 22k bracelet and an anklet!  He was teaching Spanish and Rizal Course and these were all in evening session.

When the bell rings, my father would dutifully remove his precious props and carefully would pack it up inside an empty Vicks vaporub plastic container.  He would judiciously arrange it inside his run down brief case.   Then he would catch up for the last jeepney ride and lead for home. His routine was like that daily.

One day, the jeepney he was riding on was held up by three young thugs.  One of them was seated next to my father with a drawn knife.  While his two companions were snatching anything of value from the passengers, the man with the knife shouted that all jewelries must be surrendered or face the consequence.  My father immediately opened his portfolio, plucked out his jewelry case and emptied it on the baseball hat sprawled at the floor of the jeep.  The one with the knife noticed the wristwatch of my father and was likewise commanded to remove it.

My father whispered, “my dear friend, I have given all of mine,” while pointing at the hat.  “The wristwatch”, my father continued, “is not mine.  It’s my son’s.  And I am not in the habit of giving something that is not mine.”  That angered the robber as he pointed the knife on the face of my father demanding that the wristwatch be taken off or my father gets killed.

My father further shielded his left arm with his body as he curled further and said that he better get killed than compromise his principle.  My father was stabbed 17 times but survived the ordeal.  When I visited my father in the hospital, he gave me my watch and said that he nearly paid it with his life.  Despite the multiple fatal wounds he suffered, a month later he was back in school.

Not my mother.

Years later, I was then on my last year in my legal education, my father asked me to bring him home.  I was studying in the school where my father teaches.   If my father felt something unusual because of his trauma, he would indulge me for a treat and later to take him back home on my car.

That fateful Friday evening when we went home, I sensed something strange.  Our front gate was wide open and there was no light inside the house.  Whenever mother waits for my father, she would usually open the gate ajar and all lights in the veranda are opened.  Not on that day though.

I prodded my father just to wait inside the car while I checked.  I tucked my gun on my waist and walked slowly.   My mother was too conservative to even think of a prank.  Something must be wrong although I was praying hard for supernatural assistance since my mother suffered stroke thrice already.  My father followed me.

The surroundings, the fixtures, the furnishings of the house were in order; no telltale sign of disturbance.  As I opened the light, on the far end of the house under the dining table, my mother was sprawled.  I embraced my father.  He might suffer a heart attack.  I consoled my father that mother must have suffered a bad stroke that day.  She was lifeless.

I asked my father to take his seat and gave him a glass of water.  Thereupon, I went to check my mother if only to place her on the sofa.  I noticed something weird.  The hands of my mother had markings that it was tied strongly with nylon cords.  Her duster was ripped with knife lacerations!  When I checked her neck, I noticed blood on her chest and there were numerous stab wounds.  She was murdered!

Here was a woman, a stroke patient, half body paralyzed, could not speak properly yet and very, very weak, stabbed 17 times as if she indulged her assailants in a mortal combat!  She must have prayed for divine intervention.  She was very religious.  No angel came.  Her attackers must be out of their minds, insane, devious, cruel.  I was mad and almost into a fit of rage.  I was just trying to calm down my father and if I try something barbaric, my father might suffer a heart attack.  I tried to be mellow and tried imitating the Buddha.

I called the police for assistance.  Minutes later a couple of chubby men came in civies and introduced themselves as policemen.  They were angry at us because we moved the corpse from its original station.  I apologized since I never realized there was a crime done in our place.

The police called up the funeral parlor and in a few minutes, my mother was wrapped in a body bag and brought to the morgue.  I asked father to help the police determine if there were suspicious characters which could help them in their investigation.  My father was still in a state of shock and could not be counted.  I could not even contribute my own opinion since it was my first visit in almost six months.  Their room however was cluttered with mess, valuables were missing,  a clear sign that we were attacked by the “akyat-bahay” gang.

To make the story short, my parents were preys and unfortunate products of criminality that left an indelible mark on my soul.    I could not forgive crime.  I renamed myself to sound like vengeance.  I must, while alive, dedicate the remaining part of my life in the pursuit of justice.

Unlike Batman though who was a multimillionaire, inheriting the vast estate of his parents, who can willfully carry out anti criminal crusade, mine only was of minuscule value.  I could only contribute in my dreams some tinges of vigilantism.

And yes, in my dreams I have dealt with a lot of adventurous and suspenseful death defying retribution.  I could not count the casualty toll, and it’s quite numerous,  because most dreams could no longer be recalled or remembered.

That is why only in my dreams; I was happily defending the helpless and defenseless.  In one of my dreams, then Mayor Alfredo Lim was questioned on the rise of vigilante deaths in his turf.  Mayor Lim could not respond properly despite being labeled as Manila’s Dirty Harry because he was never behind those summary executions.  I had a lot of day dreaming too.  Most of the time, I carried out revenge in the dead of night, or while taking a nap in my office, as I crawl and attack criminals left and right.  I would all leave them heaving their last breath, movie like.   In my dream, it was me as Batman doing the chores.

Well, it was twerking like Batman without his mask and cape after all.

 

GOING THROUGH LIFE

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When I was a youngster, I wanted to pull time ahead of me so that I could act and maybe look old than my age.  I grew my beard, acted maturely and strove to tackle matters only older people would enjoy.  I read books far ahead of my time, stretching my mind and pushing it further so that I could possibly digest profundities and yes, tried  looking at life in the prism of the elderly.  That made me quite busy for a while.  In the process, that made me also a regular fixture among the elderly group in my community especially in the organization where I was employed.

I never had moments which would make me a normal functioning youth.  I was in my study reading the classics.  My peers could not locate me and push me into their circle to enjoy the bounties and adventures of youthfulness.  Mine was more into philosophy, science and everything that excites people in their senior years.  My youth was devoted to senior year disposition.  And I was very happy, contented and it made sense.

I have not tasted the morsel of youthful exuberance when I got employed.  Work was the most absorbing activity I ever had.  I tried to learn every difficult phase, every problematic angle, and every tough task and enslave myself into hard work.  I was the errand of everyone in the organization I was their muchacho, runner, goffer, keeper, watcher, one who is an initiate, the one who sacrifices a lot if only to make life for them bearable.  I have to make my shoulder broad for all of my co-workers.

In a short period of time, I was promoted several folds and at a glimpse, I was rubbing elbows with senior officers and haggling, discussing, debating, arguing and issuing significant decisions.  I belonged to their circle already.  It was as if I was of their age, as if we were contemporaries, as if we were peers in terms of exposures.

When I reached that age when youth has been passed on, when maturity has unfolded, when my hair turned gray, I thought that possibly this time I could enjoy youthfulness.  And why not?  I have the necessary resources to feed my thoughts and inclination.   All my loved ones are in their proper places, stronger than I was, more resourceful than I was their age, tougher than me because of technology.  I only have an insignificant advantage—-I have savings, accumulated allowances, lump sum, pension and the like.  I could live a pseudo-princely life.  And since I have been through life’s struggles, engaged and has survived the slings and arrows of intrigues and threats, anything that spells difficulty no longer matter.  I am too strong for inanities.

In my personal dictionary, I have deleted words like jealousy, envy, hatred and anger.

I have read books about futurism, about technology for the next one hundred years.  Science has answered all mysteries which the present time is still belaboring to discover.  Life on earth and that of the universe no longer is cryptic, it is almost known.  There is nothing secretive, nothing obscure, nothing ambiguous.  Nothing is hidden and I know what will happen centuries from now.

I have loved and was loved in return.  I have lost, gained and regained.  I have shared and sacrificed, tendered and surrendered.

Life is full of excitement and at the same time boring.  It inspires and frustrates, it ignites and dampen.  One day I am a winner, another a loser.  There is nothing in between.   Everything seems to be celebrated with exuberance and apathy, one way or another.

I have learned humility and practiced honesty in a grand manner.  I could sense danger far ahead and cautious at all times.  I knew how to pace activities, plan and secure my environment.

I can splurge in any way I could.  I could go places without being slandered.  I could eat at any fancy restaurant or just while time and haggle for street food.  I can watch movies almost every day if I want  to and spend days on the road without fear of getting lost.  I would even stretch the limits and try to get lost in the process.  On the whole, despite old age, I was having an exciting period in my life like any youngster.  Suddenly, I was young again!  And this time around,  as a young person of tender years prepared to understand the meaning of fulfillment.

Right now, I am looking forward to some heady days, still youthful in my 60s and believe me, if nature would be that tamed, as I intended it to be, then the 70s, 80s and 90s would be exciting stages to express a wonderful period.

A FEW STEPS FROM DEATH’S DOOR

death door

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 (now the country’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.

Confession of a Badass Senior Citizen

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Upon reaching the age of 18, I thought of moving out from direct parental supervision.  No, it was not out of pique nor as a consequence of gross familiarity.  I really wanted to stay in the bosom of my parents forever but there are significant things which I might miss out.  I must be on my own.    But I have one more year to go at that time before I graduate from college.  Hence I held on.

However, at the age of 19 with a college diploma, I eventually bid my parents goodbye.  I intend to be independent the way the Academe prepared me to be.  At first glance, there was grief written all over our house.  My parents confounded my word about leaving as if I was dying!

I could only watch the sadness on the faces of my parents when I proposed for autonomy.  Their baby had grown up and was seeking its own shadow in the sunshine of a harsh world.  I could tell from their expression that they were a couple of doubters.  I was a picture of confidence on the other hand.  But that was how it should be if I intend to be tougher.  That was also the only way for my parents to gauge whether they have nurtured a strong child or otherwise.  That was also the way I could strengthen myself.

I have friends and peers who depend largely on their respective parents.  When their parents separated as in one case, my friend was inconsolable.  When one of my friend’s parents died of an accident, he was completely devastated.  Both of my peers became failures—and weaklings in their career and family life.  Both never recovered because of their absolute dependence and sentimental proximity to their parents.  It was a lesson which never departed my consciousness.

I must leave the warm, hearth and comfort of home if only to make my own destiny.  I tell you, it was never that easy but it was not discouraging.  Forget emotions.  Forget sentiments.  They are mere figments on a weary soul.

It was navigating into a cruel world, taming its wild corners and calming the pressures of environment.  I had lots of friends also on the road with me.  They were street smart and shrewd.  Most of them were clever enough to spot danger a kilometer ahead.  They were in my estimation born to raise hell.  Good for them but a little bad for me since I was groomed in a sheltered environment almost spoiled and treated with tenderness.  There was nothing in my childhood that would spell abandonment.  I was completely nurtured in a climate of consideration.

Initially, it was hard to walk on bare foot.

If I wanted to gain something from the world I must undergo the initiation of a freshman.  I must confront the pain of disappointment, the rigors of failure, the stages of helplessness, the period of loneliness.  I must accept agony and the sting of vulnerability.  I must be callous and cold hearted if only to survive.  These were requirements I needed in my quest to understand the meaning of success.

Youth was on my side and I do not wish to lament this given opportunity when I get old.

Getting through with bruises and scars then smiling on was for me a profile of ascertaining the vison of triumph in any endeavor.  And so, I trod on.

Years and years later, the exposure made a dent on my personality.  I became wise, liberated and fearless.  There was nothing that could force me, no force could compel me, no power could control me.  Whenever I would visit my parents, I could sense that they were all proud to see me.  I may have accumulated a lot of botches but they were more interested in listening on how I fared and won.

They relished the thought that I have transformed into an authority, a leader in my own universe and still could dictate and oblige their son to do menial tasks at home.  They once and still had their baby and a strong shoulder they could hang on.  It was a parent’s dream and a child’s vision.

They knew that taming the brutality of the universe is not something to be handed over.  They knew the efforts that were expended.  They knew that I have undergone perdition, that I have a lot to share in terms of delinquency and that fulfilling morals in an otherwise immoral surroundings was a feat worthy of reckoning.  I could see the moistened eyes of my parents as it juxtaposed with their smiling lips.

They have contributed to the world through me.  No matter how menacing such contribution it may be to a certain extent, that was an offering my parents gladly acknowledged.

I wished my kids could develop the same mindset too.

My parents have gone to life hereafter and their son remained as the keeper of their theme.  Years came by until the son, having carried out the vengeance to level the field for them, slowly moved on in his twilight years.

On my senior years, I could see the path strewn with my blood, sweat and tears.

As a senior citizen, I got more rights now and greater discounts.  I some cities, I could have my freebies, cakes and movies, including fare, medicine, snack rebates.  Gone were the days when I seek government intervention, now it is government that intervenes for me.  I get preferences wherever I go.  There are actually no more instances to be wicked anymore.

And I am still around like Ali, floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee.  The sting there however is more allegorical than literal.

I expected my children to be forthright also although they may not be conscious about it.  They thought that I have faded in some remote caves somewhere.  They thought I have forgotten to be a parent.  They may have thought that I lost my mind.

There should be a realization somewhere.  I merely took note on what happened to some of my upper class.  There is only one option to take.  The only way to capture the universe is not through a parent, it is only through independence.  It pains a parent to push his children to the limits but that is the only way to live and survive.

One day the parent would discover that his children are out in the world slaying dragons too.  The parent has been left to fend for his own.  On his own, he must confront the universe without regret and lamentation contented at the thought that his children are—-like him—- strong enough to withstand the forces of nature.

The older one gets the more he must be, just in his mind, a badass after all.

 

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