Happy New Year, everyone! This one is dedicated to those who are imparting some valuable lessons for the next generation.
What a year, right? It started off with a volcanic eruption, and was quickly followed by the news of a viral outbreak in China that became the start of a worldwide pandemic. Soon enough, positive cases were identified in the Philippines, thanks to the lack of a travel ban, and then the longest lock down in the world began in March. In the midst of the health and economic crisis that followed, the Duterte administration — courtesy of his minions in Congress — shut down the largest television network in the country. Healthcare workers started dying at an alarming rate, government officials, and then the police, began breaking their own lock down rules without consequences, which regular citizens were being punished for. And then there were the countless who lost their jobs, their homes, their means of transportation, their family members, and even their hope.
But, of course, not everyone was so unlucky. There were many who simply had to hunker down, stay home, watch television (Korean television shows got an unexpected boost!), and play video games. There were many who only had to make a few modifications to their lifestyles, whether it was working from home, limiting their outdoor activities, or adjusting their daily practices. Some even had it easy, especially those who were barely working at their jobs in Congress or Senate anyway. One former PNP Chief would be a good example of that, since he was quite vocal about enjoying the work from home situation.
Looking back, I think it’s important to acknowledge the people who’ve played a pivotal role in bringing the Philippines to the state it is in today, especially since what’s going on now is going to heavily impact the future. It’s tempting to say this all falls on one man, the president, as he’s a favorite target for the horrors his administration has wrought. But he did not do this alone. And the children who will inherit the world as we’ve made it today deserve to know who’s responsible.
First, we have Harry, Delfin, Eduardo, Francisco, and all the rest who are in charge of putting themselves in the line of fire to defend and protect their president, even when what comes out of their mouths are totally ridiculous lies. In school, we’re supposed to learn about honesty and integrity, regardless if you’re in public service or not, but especially if you’re a public servant. Alas, these men and women are proudly demonstrating to the public, to their colleagues, to their friends, and to their families that these characteristics are not actually necessary, and are even considered to be hindrances to one’s ambitions. The children of today have much to learn from these people when it comes to becoming successful and rich.
Then there are those elected officials in Congress, the Senate, and even the local government units who, instead of serving the public as they were hired to do, are actually serving themselves by supporting Digong’s every whim. Regardless of whether what the president wants is legal or not, ethical or not, moral or not, they are showing the public, their colleagues, their friends, and their families that opportunism, not public service, is the name of the game when you’re elected into office. The children of today are learning that aligning yourself with the powerful is what matters when you become an adult.
Let’s not forget the paid trolls who are willing to exchange money for their self-respect. Yes, survival is important, especially in these hard times. We all have families and our own well-being to take care of. But from them, the children of today are learning that morals and ethics have no value in a world where money is worshiped above all things.
Most of all, though, there are the private citizens — the ones who continue to be openly supportive of Digong, the ones who noticed that it’s a bit embarrassing now to be so vocal, and especially the ones who decided to become fence-sitters, neither supporting nor condemning the man they voted for. I continue to be astounded at what they are teaching their colleagues, their friends, their families, and their very impressionable children with their indifferent and/or cultish behaviors. Imagine extolling his vulgarity, his promotion of violence, his bullying, his sexism, his penchant for innuendo and gossip because they consider these behaviors as him being a ‘totoong tao‘, and then in the next breath absolving him of any responsibility when women get verbally abused and threatened, when dead bodies start piling up, when children adopt the cussing and threatening behaviors, and when people who committed no crimes get arrested or assassinated. Imagine openly condemning corruption and then, when he and his people break regulations and rules with impunity, becoming silent as church mice because there is just no way to defend their actions. Imagine being proud of a president whose legacy turned out to be not the economic paradise he promised, but instead a killing fields filled with peace officers who don’t even know what that word means anymore. Imagine boasting about his ‘strong political will’ that would solve everything from the drug problem to corruption, only to defend him when he clearly can’t even oversee a functional or organized pandemic response, even asking the critics to go easy on him because, boo-hoo, he’s old and frail and sick. So where did that political will they were endlessly harping about go? Or maybe it never existed, except in myths and fantasies.
One man and his cabal are not the only ones responsible for the state of the country today. And though they may not yet feel the repercussions of what they began, their children most definitely will. And I wonder how these children will turn out. Will their parents tell them, ‘Wag mo ako gayahin, anak. Be better than me‘ and hope against hope the children WILL do the work of making a better world? Will the children curse their parents for serving up a country full of corruption, impunity, death, and rampant incompetence? Or will they stay true to their parents’ legacy of aligning themselves with the most powerful, sell their self-respect for money, lie, cheat and steal in order to become rich, and cloak themselves in silent indifference even when crimes are being committed in front of their eyes? I mean, how are they supposed to learn integrity and ethics anyway, when precious little can be found in their midst? Most of all, will their children thank them for the kind of world they’re leaving behind?
Optimism is ingrained in me, so I always have some hope that most people will end up doing the right thing. But my being Filipino has also taught me to be realistic. Our problem has always been both systemic and cultural. And it’s only when we are ready to change ourselves, our thinking, and our behaviors that real progress will be made. Expecting someone else to make the change happen, with minimal participation from us other than obedience, was never the answer. Our children need to learn that, and if they don’t, well, that’s on us.