Friday, June 08, 2007


(UNDERTOW - The Philippine Chronicle, May 5, 2007)

It has been almost six years now since I gave up driving my car, relying instead on the MRT, the bus, the jeepney and the tricycle to take me to my destination, not to mention the frequent walks I take as I head back home, and this deliberate act on my part has made my life simple, economical and less stressful. It has also taught me valuable lessons on humility. I also believe this to be my humble contribution for a better environment. In contrast, take for example the fellow who drives around with his car bearing a single-digit license plate such as the number eight. A lot of times, he's not even the authorized user of that figure. Again, this is where delicadeza is the order of the day, for gone are the days when honor, integrity or 'sin liong,' as our Chinoy brothers call it, were part and parcel of every respectable individual. Which reminds me, is it morally correct to call some of our congressmen "honorable?" For almost always, the lawmakers we put in office become the lawbreakers we see on a regular basis. Don't you just love seeing these guys, part human and part Cayman whenever they ignore a traffic light, bully their way around city streets, or park at a prohibited space like the ones reserved for the handicapped, and especially when they alight from their gas-guzzling Expeditions and Escalades, Safaris and Sequoias wearing expensive items of clothing and jewelry, knowing full well that their slavish constituents back home can't even have a decent meal each day or are unable to send their kids to school? The very people who vowed before us yesterday to be our noble representatives are today the sleazy tyrants of our society. It would be good to see them even just for a day living up to the title "honorable" just like some of their colleagues in the house, but that would be a cold day in hell. On election day, let's put in office truly honorable men and women. We know who these people are. It's high time we look way beyond popularity and family names. A candidate isn't a bit better than the other just because the office at stake was first occupied by his father or her husband. Let's vote for honor, character, morality and integrity. Vote for the candidates with 'sin liong.'

While we are grateful to Mr. Henry Sy and his children for giving us great SM malls, we must also be disappointed and peeved for their racial preference. Have you noticed how SM malls prominently display huge indoor posters of white-skinned people endorsing even local brands? With the exception of Ms. Charlene Gonzales as their official poster girl, the rest of them are Caucasians. I therefore ask SM owners and SM management this question: What's wrong with being brown, or for that matter any other color but white? Or are you simply convinced that white people are more enticing and are more believable for product endorsements? Have you no faith in a Filipino with 'kayumanggi' features when it comes to selling your wares? No wonder whitening cream is a hot-selling item these days. Not only do your posters send a misleading message to the general public, they're also quite disturbing to us who are proud of our brown heritage.

Whenever I see an ambulance speeding down the highway in an apparent emergency, I can almost always predict with accuracy that some imbecile behind the wheel is tailgating, sometimes wishing that the person needing immediate medical attention in that ambulance were the brainless tailgater himself. What drives some motorists to take advantage of an emergency situation such as this to get ahead of other cars is sheer selfishness and stupidity. On the other hand, there are ambulances that pretend to be in an emergency with the same reason of wanting to be ahead of the pack. Both situations are serious road crimes and must be stopped accordingly before a major pile-up occurs. Next time you happen to be a witness, steer clear and don't give in to the sweet temptation of tailgating yourself. Instead, inform the LTO hotline and hope they act on it promptly for a change.

The mushrooming of underbone (100cc-125cc) motorcycles on our streets have contributed greatly to the rapid increase of injuries and casualties relating to this because there are still motorcycle riders who simply refuse to wear a crash helmet. Big names in the motorcycle industry here in the Philippines such as as Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Honda have a social responsibility of prioritizing rider safety at all times, instead of just thinking only of pure profit at any cost. And how should they do this? Simple. Their accredited dealers nationwide could throw in acceptable factory crash helmets as a mandatory part of each sale. Never mind if the buyer says he already owns one. A spare helmet can always be used by someone else such as his passenger. It's always wise to think of safety first before hopping on that motorbike. The benefits are far greater than vanity or driving around with the helmet worn halfway on the head or simply strapped to an elbow. As a matter of fact, many motorcycle accidents occur within the vicinity of the rider's residence or place of work. So it's always best to put on that helmet even if you're just 'going around the corner.' And to the cops, please enforce the law at all times and practice leadership by example. Wear your crash helmets instead of your gold trinkets.

After reading Carmen Guerrero Nakpil's wonderful autobiography and memoirs of the old pre-war Ermita I never knew entitled "Myself, Elsewhere," I have come to embrace much more the reminder of how important impeccable manners and decorum were in those days, and how equally if not more important they are today. My very own parents, 'Ermitence' themselves, were brought up in such orderly fashion. My mother lived her life like a true citizen of Ermita, and my father continues to do so to this day. further on, the book takes you to streets like Calle Cortada, Calle San Carlos, Isaac Peral, A. Flores (where my father was born) and Salsipuedes, and fiestas such as the Bota Flores or the 'pelting of flowers,' Tres Reyes Magos and the Fiesta del Pueblo. The book also makes mention of my Protestant father's marriage to my Catholic mother, the wedding taking place at a side altar of the Ermita church, as it was decreed then for mixed-marriages. Ermita got its name from an old Spanish monk who lived his life that of a hermit, and thus the town was known as Hermita or Ermita for Hermitage. Another book worth reading is "Manila Men in the New World" written by Floro Mercene. The author writes about the Filipino migration to Mexico and the Americas from the sixteenth century onwards. The four-hundred year old Filipino diaspora may well have a direct link to our present Overseas Filipino Workers or OFWs. At first, they were called Manila Men and it was only in the nineteenth century when they assumed their present identity as Filipinos.

SYERAP FILES: Manny Pacquiao and Chiz Escudero will team up as they both eye the presidency and vice-presidency respectively in 2010. Their campaign slogan: "VOTE CHAMP WITH CHIZ!"

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