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On the Road to 2010, Ako Mismo Nagtatanong: Where’s My Cut? - Filipino Voices with Michael J. Libow

On the Road to 2010, Ako Mismo Nagtatanong: Where’s My Cut?

Amidst this quarrel with Ako Mismo, the minutia of Martin Nivera’s singing, the great book blockade and the never ending trouble and scandal, I say, our nation is in the precarious position of losing the future. In my humble opinion, there is a fatal misunderstanding of what’s wrong and thus, people will apply the wrong medicine. For example, on the road to 2010, some assume that many are uninterested in the state of affairs of this nation. Perhaps they assume this because too few people join political rallies. I believe they don’t understand the Philippines.

An advertising campaign like Ako Mismo, which in its basic, most simplistic way is saying, “stop being apathetic!” doesn’t resonate much with the blog crowd. I’m sure you’ve read the vicious pieces written about this campaign.

What irked people the most is the fact that it wasn’t signed, as if the proponents of this advertising campaign were ashamed to be associated with this call for civic duty. If this advertising was a means to use the entire country as one gigantic focus group to determine what people want then I’m sorry to say, that’s a load of crap. You shouldn’t be in any position of leadership, if you don’t know what’s wrong or got the balls to lead.

Those of us in our 30s and 20s, many of us in the blogsphere and a lot of people in their homes grumbling at the nightly news or peeved when they read the Sunday paper or you, dear reader aren’t apathetic. The same goes for every barber in town. We are disgusted by the pathetic, cumbersome and selfish antics of those in power. Like addicts we can’t get enough of the drama. An example of this angry train of thought is by Martin Perez who wrote:

And this is the dangerous game being played by Ako Mismo. By promising a movement of change and what not, they play on the hopes and dreams of many. Now they will have to follow through on that. For making good on promises is what they should do. We should do. I should do.

Ako mismo, pero paano sila?

Oh, wow! BREAKING NEWS! When have people NOT promised a movement of change, and failed to follow through on both sides of the aisle, whether administration and opposition, whether civil society like the lot of Jun Lozada? Haven’t we all played a part on ruining the hopes and dreams of Our People?

That’s the naked truth isn’t it?

The feel good mantra of Ako Mismo was negatively taken because people feel that they’re already doing their part. Whether in the personal lives, in their professional lives and in the way they try to feed their families as best they could. And like a woman who has her heartbroken too many times, people get tired of trusting. Who can blame our people when the air of deceit is prevalent? Where honesty and openness can hurt you faster than a speeding bullet or blog comment. People are disgusted by the pathetic, cumbersome and selfish antics of those in power.

That said, we’re not really a very open society are we?

This whole crap about Martin Nievera singing the national anthem badly reeks of minutia. Some people like it, some people don’t. That’s art isn’t it? Music is an expression of the soul. Mr. Nievera didn’t bastardize it, didn’t he?

Set aside that our ears were hurt when Mr. Nievera sang the anthem. Is that why people rarely sing it? Because we can’t sing? Anyway, I digress, why should Martin Nievera be punished? Why are we even talking about this non-event? Because Mr. Nievera broke the law.

People are correct in saying that the law must be followed. That the law must be obeyed. I’m no lawyer but does it even matter since he wasn’t the Philippines when he sang it? Is it also important that the spirit of the law be of equal importance in this matter? Does the spirt of the law mean it in such away that our national anthem isn’t bastardized?

Imagine this: Araneta Coliseum is packed. The air is energized, almost restless in anticipation. Lights go off. The crowd starts to yell. It is all about to begin isn’t it?

Stage right: slowly blue lights come on as a cloud of smoke is popped. Stage left: red lights on and more smoke! a second later, center stage rises. An electric guitar is singing the opening to Lupang Hinirang real slow. It is quickly joined by the lead guitar, bassist and drums. Back part of the stage is lit and it is a video of the Flag in all its glory, proudly flying.

You know the words: “perlas ng silanganan, alab ng puso” and yet no words are sung, just instrumental and hmmm from the backup singers, then it goes to a crescendo— they stop for one, two seconds and Ely sings and the crowd joins: “Ang Mamatay ng Dahil, sayo!!”

Is that disrespecting the Flag, and our Anthem or is it our pride and our joy and our creative and free expression as guaranteed by the Constitution that is being celebrated? Is that not an expression of love of country?

So I have to ask: just because we have a law doesn’t mean it is right. So why aren’t people saying we should change the law rather than oppress Free Expression?

It feels like there is a conscious effort to stifle reason and creativity. There is this negative air that wants to stay trapped in an endless cycle of mediocrity. Take this whole insane matter on books.

If this whole minutia about Martin Nievera singing irked you then this whole blockage against books speak volumes of something seriously rotten with this country and I’m not talking about just politics:

McSweeney’s, Robin Hemley wrote:

Over coffee one afternoon, a book-industry professional (whom I can’t identify) told me that for the past two months virtually no imported books had entered the country, in part because of the success of one book, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. The book, an international best seller, had apparently attracted the attention of customs officials. When an examiner named Rene Agulan opened a shipment of books, he demanded that duty be paid on it.
“Ah, you can’t be too successful in this country,” I said. “If you are, then people start demanding a cut.”

Let me be an airhead for a moment and say: that that last line of comment would be a nice tweet.

Seriously, it’s true isn’t it? It speaks volumes of how this country is. Not just the politics. Going back to the whole notion that this country is apathetic really is like fool’s gold. The dynamic of this country revolves around “The Cut”. From the smallest organ to the top. In my humble opinion, that’s an economic problem, which is caused by politics. Yet as simple as it sounds the underlying disease is far more complex.

Everyone wants their cut!

See, for all our anger and pain against say, at Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whenever a new scandal erupts, and we want her out? It is like cutting the head of a hydra. A new one would just spring out. And just maybe it could be far worst than the devil we know.

That’s just one aspect isn’t it? That’s the national politics that irks many, especially when you’re living in Manila. But don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t mean it isn’t horrible or wrong.

When you look at Philippine politics, there are two dimensions of it. The aphorism that all politics is local holds true doesn’t it? So why are the same crowd gets voted in, say for Congressman? When the husband is done with his term, the wife or the kid steps in. And why are certain families in control of various provinces?

Why are voters going for these kinds of people? Is it because they somehow profit or benefit? One would assume that they do, right if they are buying their local official’s kool aid? Is it because nobody else is interested or can’t run for lack of any sort of organization? Is it a problem of a lack of any sort of real, stable political party?

The Baron in City Hall can’t reply. The Duchess at the Provincial Capital rarely has an answer. The Upper and Lower House of Lords are too busy taping their reality show on television. The Empress, after nearly being in power for almost a decade has little progress to show for. And when the crown is passed on, Indonesia and Vietnam are healthier than the Philippines.

That’s not really the problem isn’t it? The problem really is that Maria Clara is working hard to feed her family of four. She’s in some old person’s home in Israel. Maria is washing an ancient lady’s excretions and tucking the old lady in bed. That’s her job. Juan dela Cruz is in Binondo pulling a hand trolly filled with supplies for the neighborhood store. Day in and day out he is slaving away, and in May 2010, they’ll be asking, “Where’s my cut?”

By May 2010, Manny Villar, Manny Pacquiao and maybe the contest would also interest Manny Pangilinan. These people would be on their knees, as if humbled. “We’ll Show you the Money (your cut), if you vote for us”. Guess maybe that’s why Mar and Korina are a team. Koring is miser in English, correct? So we’d assume their future government wouldn’t be wasting too much money?

Let’s zone out, shall we? Because by fall of 2010, it doesn’t matter who wins the election, right? There will be a new season of “The Senate at Work,” which is guaranteed to be aired on all the cable news channels and all the TV stations. Hey, you can’t stop a hit! We will watch intently as Miriam Santiago is on television grilling official after official on why they’re not doing their jobs or on some scandal involving school breakfast that just broke. Do you remember that time she dared to jump off a plane and when called out, yells at the top of her voice, “I lied!?” We laugh because, well, her catch phrases are funny. We’ll hope she’ll have funnier lines in future episodes. Who said reality television is farce?

That said, we’ve never really answered the question, “where’s my cut?” Have we?