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Wednesday, July 13, 2005


This e-mail was forwarded to our high school yahoogroup by my classmate, Mark Perez. The author mentions a certain "Jawbreaker" who has written some nasty things about the Philippines, and this is the author's reaction. I, for one, haven't read the aforementioned article, though you don't need to read that one to glean some lessons on this one.

Sayang lang sa e-mail and internet lang lumalabas ito. maganda sana kung mailabas pa sa ibang mas easily accessible na paraan para lahat ng Pilipino ay mabasa ito.

So, here it is...

We The Jologs: A Reaction to Jawbreaker's "Walang Kwenta ang Pilipinas" by ionaks

I am working class, I pay my taxes, I am an "ordinary office worker," I know how it feels..... but this person, whoever he or she is, does not speak for me. While the writer did not claim that he was speaking for anyone but himself, the same passion that compelled him to compose his message is the same passion which compels me now to say my piece.

I write this for several reasons. First, the email (or more accurately, the blog entry) now circulating, as strongly-worded as it is, is bound to reach more and more people and lest more are led to believe that most of us think in the same vein, I have to say that we do not, or at least I don't. Second, many of his statements do a great many Filipino grave disservice. Third, it is time to speak.

I am just as sick of the corruption and the scandals and the politicking. Pagod, sawa, at sukang-suka sa walang katapusang pagbabangayan, tama siya doon! Ang gobyerno ng Pilipinas ay saksakan ng dumi at baho... tama ulit! We are all sick of watching these politicians fight over positions in goverment like rabied dogs, all in the name of public service kuno when in fact the only interest they ever serve is their own. But this issue goes so far beyond politics! Sino nga bang kawawa sa mga nangyayari ngayon? Kahit naman anong mangyari doon sa itaas, wala naman sa kanila ang maghihirap. Even if Gloria resigns or is removed from office, she's not going to end up anywhere near the poor house scrounging for a daily living. Lahat sila, administrasyon, oposisyon, militar, the big business players... all those powers that be who seem to be driving the country further and further into the depths of oblivion... they have nothing to lose except the opportunity to accumulate more wealth at our expense. If this country does self-destruct, all they have to do is hop on an airplane and fly, business class at that, to some other country.

At sino ang maiiwan dito? Tayo. The so-called "middle-class"... and the so-called "masa". Sama-sama tayong maiiwan dito to drown in the muck. And because of this, I see no distinction between the purported middle-class and the masa anymore, definitely not one that will help us in these trying times. To hang on to the notion that our interests are different is myopic. To believe that the middle-class have more at stake is arrogant. To continue to keep a line between "them" and "us" is elitist and wrong. It also borders on prejudice, which is unacceptable. This kind of hatred is just as bad as greed.

Look around you. Unless you are surnamed Ayala (exception na lang siguro si Joey Ayala) or Cojuancgo or Gokongwei or what have you.... working or not, MASA ka rin! So what if you dress better, or went to a private school, can speak decent English, or listen to Coldplay instead of April Boy? Does it make you more of a person? Does it make you more deserving of a better life? Does it make you more entitled to decent service from an honest government? All it makes you is, well, better-dressed and eligible for a higher tax bracket.

You know what the real differences are? The real difference between "us" and "them" is that while "we" complain about not being able to afford a fancy dinner at some expensive restaurant or buy a new pair of sneakers or get the latest cellphone, "they" worry about where to get money for their next meal. "They" worry about diseases like pneumonia and TB and not having even a hundred bucks to even go to a doctor to ask for a prescription that they won't be able to afford to buy anyway. Our children give up going to the movies; their children give up fare money and walk to school, if they are able to still go to school in the first place. The taxes that you pay may mean an out-of-town family vacation. The taxes that according to you they don't pay could spell the difference between life and death. THAT is the difference.

Paying your taxes does not make you better than anyone else. Haven't you thought about the fact that so many Filipinos are exempt from paying taxes precisely because they are too poor to pay any tax?

And for sure, kahit kailan hindi sila naging bida. Kahit kailan, hindi sila nasunod. Kahit kailan, hindi sila ever pinakinggan ng gobyerno. Pinarada si Mang Pandoy dati, yung tatlong bata naman nung panahon ni Gloria, pero nasaan na sila ngayon? The Government has always claimed to but has NEVER actually championed their cause. EDSA I? Mind you, hindi yun laban ng mga jologs na masa. Laban yun ng lahat ng Pilipino, led foremost by the middle-class! Lalo naman ang EDSA II which put Gloria in power. That was almost a purely middle-class movement. Maybe you're talking about the so called mob which rally to support Erap at every opportunity, but they have not been heard. More importantly, they do not properly represent the poor of this country. The "masa" can be found not only in Metro Manila; they are scattered all across these 7,107 islands of ours. High tide or low tide, they have never been empowered. They remain desolate and neglected and oppressed. True, pag kampanya sila ang bida sa plataporma, pero pagkatapos hindi ba yung mga crony na business tycoons at foreign investors din naman and naghahari? And you will deny them their right to basic government service? No need, because the Government never served them anyway.

And besides, OO, tayong working class ang nagbabayad ng buwis at OO dahil dun nabubuhay ang Pilipinas. But do you know who really keeps this country afloat, albeit barely? The farmers! The fishermen! Those people who still somehow keep the agricultural sector going. They feed you and me. Literal pa yan! Economically, agriculture is still our major industry. By traditional definitions, I'm sure kasama sila sa masa na sobrang kinagagalitan mo. Will you deny them their proper place in keeping this country alive for all of us? They probably contribute more than both you and I do. Besides, the way things are going right now, meron pa bang tao na hindi nagbabayad ng buwis one way or the other?

Yung mga big-time tax evaders, tama, sa kanila ka magalit. Pero wag doon sa maliliit na wala namang magawa.

Totoo, nakakainis ang mga tamad. At totoo naman na maraming tamad sa Pilipinas. But the poor do not have a monopoly of the indolence in this country. At sa totoo lang, hindi sila mahirap dahil tamad sila. I find it tyrannical, and such a terrifying recall to the Spanish colonial era, that some people still seem to think so. As much as there are lazy people in the squatters of Tondo, there are just as many lazy people in Forbes Park. The only difference is that they have Daddy's money to disguise their lack of productivity. At kahit tamad sila, hindi sila nagugutom.

Totoo, may mahihirap na hindi umaangat kasi tamad. Pero karamihan sa mahihirap humihirap dahil kahit anong gawin nila, hindi sila nabibigyan ng pagkakataong umayos ang buhay. Do we really believe the poor are content with their poverty and do not try to do all in their power to change their fate? Tell that to the driver of the next pedicab you ride.

The bare naked truth is, in most cases, they are simply not given the opportunity to prosper. For one, Government does not give them the education they need and deserve to equip and empower them to do better. And there's the capitalist economy of consumption and excess, where profit is the end that justifies any means, which simply will not let anyone other than the key players and investors and top-level executives have any share of the wealth. I find it strange that you shouldn't see this. You are the best example of what I mean. You complain of having to content yourself with a 10 peso waffledog at Mini-stop instead of your favorite value meal at Jollibee… yet you work your butt off, don't you? Hindi ka tamad, pero yumaman ka na ba? Like I said, masa ka rin. The simple fact is, for poor people like us, there is a much bigger hurdle than the fight against one's own "tamaditis."

You also attack those activitists who take to the streets. Unang-una, sana ihiwalay mo yung mga tunay na aktibista dun sa mga binayaran lang ng kung sinong pulitiko para manggulo. Hindi lahat ng nakikipaglaban sa kalsada walang trabaho at tamad at hindi nagbabayad ng buwis at nagbibilad sa araw para lang manggulo. There are those of them, and believe me there are many, who are decent hard-working people. They sacrifice time that could otherwise have been spent with their families to fight for what they believe in. They sacrifice the daily wages they might otherwise earn precisely because they feel that it is the future of their children at stake. And it is precisely because they are the disadvantaged lot that their sacrifices are even more proportionately significant. More than income, they have sacrificed life and limb for this country, and will do so again if the need arises. For anyone to scoff at this, no matter how much we disagree with the form their ideology takes, is disrespectful and cruel. It is an insult to those who have made such sacrifices, to their families who have made the sacrifices with them, and to those of us who still believe that this country, damned as it seems to be, is still worth fighting for.

Besides, ano nga bang masama sa ideolohiya? You use it like it was a bad word. What is ideology, really, but a principle by which we aspire to achieve our ideals? And what are our ideals? Better lives for ourselves and our families? A better future for our children? To live in a peaceful and just society, where there is enough for all and no one is hungry or poor or uneducated? To be called a great nation and take pride in our citizenship? Isn't that the ideal we all strive for? Ikaw, yun lang din naman ang gusto mo di ba? The ideologies may vary, but still, the ideals are the same. Bottomline: we all want the same thing. Masa man o middle class, (kahit nga yung mga mayayaman at corrupt na pulitiko, nasobrahan lang sila), we all want the same thing. Kelan ba kasi naging synonymous ang ideology sa idealismo at ang idealismo sa imposible? It is precisely because we have abandoned our ideals and idealism that we are in the muck. It is precisely because we have been so frustrated by our experiences that just the mere mention of the word "ideology" makes us cringe and turn away. But if all these ideologies die, then how will we even start to strive for our ideals? Siguro nga tama ka, mamatay na nga silang kumakapit pa sa prinsipyo at ideolohiya. Mamatay na tayong lahat.

We have different ways of fighting for what we believe in, different ways of contributing. Some of us take to the streets, some of us stand quietly by but in our hearts we protest the injustices that surround us and in our own ways, we do what we can. But I say, better do something than nothing at all. To give up now will do nothing but assure our doom.

The present political crisis is more than just political. True, this needs to be resolved and at the soonest possible time. But however which way this plays out… what we need to assure is that we do not let this happen again. Like I said, tayo ang kawawa. Buti sana if the effects of these political upheavals are contained only amongst those people who keep on playing musical chairs with the seats of power. Pero hindi eh. Lahat tayo, apektado. From ordinary office workers to the jobless man with five mouths to feed waiting at home, tamad man o hindi, we are the ones who suffer. These political maneuverings have translated into decades of poverty for so many and that makes me sick and livid with anger. It makes my heart break. And we are all accountable for that. Yes, all of us. And merely paying our taxes does not make us blameless.

We are accountable in so many ways that may seem innocuous but are just as dangerous nonetheless. We are accountable when we vote for a person because of nothing else than kababayan natin siya, or tatay siya ng kaklase natin sa elementary, o nakikita natin siya sa pelikula, o gwapo siya o maganda. We are accountable when we go to the LTO and bribe the employees there so we don't have to spend two hours in line. We are accountable when we solicit favors from politicians and public servants and contribute to the prevalence of patronage politics. We are accountable when we allow our friends or relatives to solicit (or grant!) those favors. We are accountable when we engage in business practices that deprive laborers of their fair and just wages just so we could keep our profit levels as high as we possibly can with nary a thought of how we owe to our employees not just to give them wages but to raise their quality of life.

We are accountable when, in the name of job and investment generation, we develop industries and technologies that wreak havoc on the environment and the health of local communities thereby effectively pushing them once and for all into a place of irrevocable poverty and true disenfranchisement.

More so we are accountable when we sit by and say nothing or do nothing to register our dissent and make things change. We are our own worst enemies. But, we could also be our own best friends.

I say this to you in fellowship and with respect for the great love you have for our country, which is obvious in spite of your disillusion and decision to give up. Go. Be the proverbial rat who abandons the sinking ship. Save yourself and pursue the life you want. You have a right to it. Iwan mo kaming bayan ng mga jologs.

Like I said, I respect your opinion. Hindi kita inaaway, and if I sound like it, I apologize. Actually, ito naman talaga ang punto ko: Hindi tayo ang magkaaway dito, just as much as I believe na hindi yung mga aktibista sa kalye o mahihirap na hindi makapagbayad ng buwis and kaaway mo. I cannot accept that they should deserve this kind of ire. And I find it counterproductive, to say the least, to put the impoverished majority of this country on the other side of the fence. You are angry, which is how most of us feel, but your anger is somewhat misdirected. Para sa akin, nakakatakot kung ganyan ngang mag-isip talaga ang lahat ng "middle-class." Rage against the corrupt and greedy people in power and I will rage with you. Rage against those who resort to murder and terrorism to get what they want. But please, spare the rest of us who just like you, flawed as we are, are just victims here.

And herein lies the crux: we may be victims here, but we are not helpless. We have to fight together. We must exercise discernment and distinguish propaganda from truth. Now is not the time to point fingers at each other and call each other names and wish each other one-way trips to hell. We must identify who and what the real enemies are; and in my heart of hearts, I know that I will not find them in the shantytowns of Manila.

There is so much that ails our country. There is something so terribly wrong when you live in a society where some people can afford 700,000 peso TV sets while just a few feet away there are children dying of malnutrition. The fact that even people with the greatest love for this country give up and leave, is the saddest commentary of all. As urgent as the need to change the people who govern us, is the need to change so many of the intrinsic things that make our systems and institutions so vulnerable to manipulation by the few. Not the least of these things is our own individual tolerance. There is much work to be done. And it must start, now.

You're right. What we need is radical change. A revolution is in order. A real one. One that will go beyond changing the names of the people we empower to abuse us. Take that statement however which way you want. Take it to the streets, if you will. But my real prayer is that you take it to your heart. Evaluate. Discern. Participate. Change. Sacrifice. Hope. Act.

And yes, leave if you must. I wish you the best of luck, too. And one day, I hope that you will come back to a Philippines that we, the jologs, will have rebuilt to make you proud.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, Ka-blog!

Just wondering, are you the same ka-blog i see over at the PCIJ blog?