The frontline is everywhere. Paying attention is a virtue nowadays, especially because all things happen all the time and it is difficult to keep one self updated. You go offline for a few hours to focus on something, next thing you know, someone’s killed, arrested, harassed. Food crises looms, and the police uproots crops to intimidate the peasants’ bungkalan. Rising cost of living, depreciating budget for everyday existence. Busted unions, dismantled picket lines. Hunger boosts anger. Some resort to drastic measures, some to level-headed but critical steps. Can’t we just zen our way to peace? Is not concentration all we need?
Let us set our priorities straight and focus, we have no less than our great leader to look up to and emulate. Despite his Hitler and Holocaust references that correspond to himself and his drug war compounded with other anti-Semitic remarks, Tatay Digong with his 400-strong delegation paid a visit to the claimants of the Promised Land. Who else to consult about the art and science of concentration but the representative of victims of the Nazis?
The outrage toward the Aryan race seems misplaced and such misinformation shall be rectified. At least, as implied by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Last 2012, he described the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the Palestinian Husseini, as “one of the architects” of the Nazi Germany’s genocidal “final solution.” Last 2015, Netanyahu delivered a speech at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem that somewhat absolved the Fuhrer, who, Netanyahu claimed, intended not the extermination of the Jews but only their expulsion from Europe — until Husseini advised Hitler to burn the Jews so they don’t spill over to Palestine.
This year, Netanyahu warmly welcomed Duterte within the contested city of Jerusalem; the guest thanked the host in response for the “critical help” during the Marawi Siege in Mindanao last 2017. The Philippine government supposedly acquired no less than three radars and a hundred armoured vehicles, which might later include aircrafts, but there was no signing of police cooperation agreement due to the notoriety of Duterte’s drug war. The Siege justified the long overdue extension of Martial Law in Mindanao among other alleged threats to national security. Duterte’s self-professed idol, American President Trump earlier fanned the flames of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by transferring the Embassy of the United States to Jerusalem, which Washington acknowledges as the capital of the State of Israel.
Disputed territories mean arms deals. With these heads of states, war economy is alive and well. Netanyahu manages to weaponize the Holocaust narrative for diplomatic and political ends using the Husseini-Hitler “truth-bomb” as justification to accuse the Palestinians of war crimes and to drive his people out of Jerusalem. The imperial agenda of Trump, like his predecessors, provokes, ignites and sustains tension in every border that it could reach—painting its enemies as hindrances to the American dream: parasites, terrorists, even degenerates. Symptomatic of a looming economic crisis that may translate to war, these are apparent testaments to the global trend toward the far right. Meanwhile, Duterte and his death squad of trolls and vigilantes achieve new lows on a daily basis, way lower than floor wages, straight perhaps to hell and beyond, while prices soar and death counts rise. As already known, decrease in food supply equals increase in demand equals price surge. Not a problem. We can manage, we just have to challenge ourselves, and change our way of seeing things. Agriculture Secretary Piñol serves as a good example of a good citizen: legalize rice smuggling and import. (Note: the German poet Brecht taught us how to interrogate the good).
As an agricultural country, the Philippines prides itself with long coastlines of its archipelago, but it is humble enough to import fish and grain. An appropriate attitude, the DDS horde might aver. To illustrate how fentanyl-high the regime has been as if atop the Mount Apo and how Marianas-trench low the Filipino has become, imagine a plate of galunggong (round scad) and a cup of rice: a common meal in a Filipino household. Something, perhaps, that people from differing religions may share over lunch or dinner—unlike the extravagant lechon that violates customs of other ethnoliguistic groups. Now, a problem (or, to be optimist about it, a bonus or a promo?): imported grains include bukbok (weevil). Solution: a demonstration of cooking and thereafter consuming safe weevil-infested rice by no less than Piñol himself.
Hence, we are doing good as a nation — as approximated by loyal subjects. Some conduits present graphs articulated via technicalese, some resort to “masa” language and at times, the usual regionalisms. Either way, feel-good mantras complement quasi-academic and nationalist-populist tricks, and thereby presented as positive thinking. Cosmetic shibboleths include: Mind over matter. Discipline and attitude. Resilience. Good vibes. Trust Tatay Digong. Help yourself. Believe. How? Simple:
Instead of whining, take textbooks with factual errors as opportunities for parents to actively focus on the education children, as advised by DepEd, and, in effect, refrain from attention-span damage caused by smart-phones. Instead of evaluating, ignore the inflation rate and the price hike that aggravates the situation of overworked, underpaid workers from different sectors who end up killing themselves or adding their bodies to the death toll of state-perpetuated murder in broad daylight. Instead of complaining, cut expenses on book fairs (just eat your book-bok rice) and appreciate the bookshelf wallpaper in the train, so you can develop a habit of reading. Instead of remembering, forget Martial Law of the Marcoses and forge democratic spaces, like UP Bahay ng Alumni, so we can move on towards national greatness. Instead of organizing and mobilizing, wait for the next elections and criticize the critics.
To remedy the deteriorating (duterteorating?) national memory and the contracting (precarious?) attention span, the current regime TRAINs and TRABAHOs (approximately, “works on”) an opportune skill that shall empower the Filipino people and consequently restore the kayumanggi race’s erstwhile glory beyond its prime during the Marcosian cultural revival: concentration. Needless to say, the pedagogy that shall infuse the skill of concentration requires an enabling environment that shall be provided by a camp.
Further instructions: Spell out the acronyms and echo Auschwitz’s “arbeit macht frei” (work sets you free): Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion, and its second iteration, Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-quality Opportunities. Draw lines of descent and dissent, venn diagrams of alliances, cartesian planes of political persuasions.
Notice how the Philippine Republic finds it irresistible to join the fad of fascist revival, as exemplified by settler-colonialist Israel and imperialist US. The marginalized classed of the “third” world bears the brunt of the excesses of the first ones that need to consolidate powers. For Filipino presidents since time immemorial, the lesser evil among imperialists is good enough; purchasing weevil-laced grains, providing substandard social services, increasing inflation rates, depressing rock-bottom wages, borrowing trillions in exchange of building infrastructure are necessary sacrifices to wage an anti-anti-imperialist war.
Now, close your eyes. Practice: concentration. Convince others that weevil is safe, hence we are doing good. Else, the camp, the cemetery — or the city streets, the countryside areas, and other sites of resistance. (davaotoday.com)