Here is my good friend Lito again. This time his questioning mind wanders into the shores of Samal Island. His left foot, he said, got caught in a heap of trash that bore the marks of a sad incident that occurred a couple of days past. The houses of long longtime residents of a fraction of foreshore land in the Garden city were “demolished without mercy” [Wala gyuy ku-kaluoy nga gipangguba,] he said.
The document written by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church, entitled Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) is a very heartening development in the citadel of Christianity—the Catholic church.
Around a week ago, when the reports of the Talaingod Manobo exodus first began trickling in, I happened to glance at a copy of a Mindanao regional daily at a local cafe. The front page proudly bannered that two battalions had been brought in from Luzon to add to counter-insurgency operations here in the Davao region. In my gut, I knew that this happy headline had something to do with the misery of my friends and many others in Talaingod.
LITO: While waiting for the outcome, don’t you think it is also good to hold peace talks between the NPA rebels and the Government?
As schools across the country are holding commencement exercises, schoolchildren from Barangay Palma Gil in Talaingod, Davao del Norte would be trudging, instead of marching, and going not up a stage to be applauded, but down from their mountain communities. In the process they have earned a new title – not graduates, but bakwit, evacuees, the displaced.
As far as I can recall, even during the American colonial period an agreement had been forged between the Moro people under the Sultan of Sulu and the US government. This was called the Bates Treaty. But it was shortlived having been abrogated by the US government, because in the first place it was not meant to last but just as an expedient move to “divide and rule” the Filipinos. At that time the US was at war with the Filipino revolutionaries. They wanted to concentrate their armed forces in Luzon. And so the Bates Treaty was a tactical trick to hold the Moro armed resistance at bay, while they were busy trying to crush the Filipino revolutionary forces in the north.
Amidst the innumerable occurrences in our social context which elicit differing perceptions and reactions among the citizenry, it is inevitable that confusion ensues. The ordinary citizen on the street is bound to ask, as did my friend Lito: What is the real score, my friend—what President Pinoy claims that the country’s economy is improving? Or what the government critics say that life among the people is getting worse?
I’m just wondering how your prescribed ideolopical antibiotic to combat corruption can be effective when for a long time this social illness has deeply metastasized in our political system? We cannot also say that none of our leaders had ever possessed some nationalistic consciousness since they started to rule our country…?
The scandalous issue of Corruption in high places in government has racked the brains of most everyone – rich and poor, young and old alike—that my good neighbor Lito could not help but ask: “Di na ba gyud matabang ning korapsiyon, Bai? Grabe na gyud kaayo! Hangtod sa hangtod na gyud ni?” [Is there no escape from corruption , Bai? It is so pervasive! Will it be with us for ever and ever?”]
I have two neighbors who frequently engage me in my early morning hour with discussions over a cup of coffee: Lito who is a longtime neighbor and Willie, my former student at the Davao School for the Blind. Their visits usually happen on Sundays, lighting up my morning hour with discussions of issues that we gather from frequent listening to the TV and radio.