‘Numb and dumb’ — true or false?
I was berated for calling us “numb and dumb” in my last commentary (8/21/19): “It’s not right to say that.” In an earlier piece (1/27/19), I had quoted worse; we were “both dumb and numb. The zombies got us” (More Voices, 1/16/19).
And “never,” my critic continued, never refer to any sector as “bobotante” — “It’s demeaning.” I was thinking, as many were thinking, how in the May elections, Bong Revilla street-danced his sexy budots straight to the Senate, and Bato dela Rosa with his own gyrations sashayed into the Senate. And Lito Lapid did it without saying a word.
I’ll drop the offensive words. But that perception still bugs me. Thankfully, Manuel L. Quezon III’s “Passive Nation” (9/18/19) gave me a milder word; “passive” is touché.
Time was, as Chit Roces Santos wrote (9/22/19), “all we needed was one tipping point like Erap’s unopened envelope, and there we were… out onto the streets in a massive protest.” Are we waiting for one that will explode and rock the earth beneath us?
Now, tipping points are serial and serious. Still, we coast along.
What has already happened? The lightning assault and continued detention of Leila de Lima is the face of the (in)justice system in the country. “Free De Lima” echoes here and abroad, but the government sneers. What about the chain of Chinese incursions in our chain of islands—and moving inland, too—before which presidential “will” melts to mendicancy?
EJKs are still rising to a “nameless” pile; no longer news but like blind items in the classified ads. Resistance spiked over the Marcos burial, but nine justices did us in. How about the gall of a wholesale charge list against the Vice President and 35 others? Not a peep compared to a concurrent event: “Buong bansa affected kina Bea, Gerald, Julia” (Abante, 8/8/19). What about the spate of killings making “ambushed” and “gunned down” as prosaic as “biking” and “driving”?
Totally scandalous is the volume of money lost in this poor-rich country. Consider P700 billion “lost to corruption” (8/19/19); P333 million, to “worthless textbooks” (8/26/19); P50 billion to “illegal wildlife trade” (8/19/19); P82 billion to “undervalued Chinese imports” (8/30/19). And for what is that mind-blowing P90 billion “requests” of lawmakers in the budget? (9/4/19). And now, in a time of epidemic, is the health budget being cut or not by P10 billion? (9/23/19 and 9/24/19). Totally outrageous is the GCTA (good conduct time allowance) mess and the Pandora’s box flung wide open of puke-inducing corruption at the Bureau of Corrections.
Aren’t we inching to the edge of dystopia?
Still, we coast along. The protesting Hong Kong youth cry democracy. We only cry survival; we only cry leave-us-be.
Maybe we are a people used to travails that stretch out to forever, such that successive strikes of bad fortune just gather above us, suspended like a cloud.
Or are we just frightened to death?
Or perhaps our religious culture has taught us to be the most forbearing, forgiving, feeling people on earth. Who cannot sympathize with the utter weariness of the President when he cuts into the State of the Nation script? (7/22/19): “I’m tired. I’m tired and I am… Talagang gusto ko na rin mag-resign. Sabi ko I am not happy anymore. Sabi ko anytime—ah the military said, if you want to go out? If you want to take over coup d’etat, go ahead… ‘Inyo na. Ayaw ko na.’ Sabi ko, ‘Sige, sinong gusto?’… Bahala na kayo diyan. I’m going home”
Do you think he was joking?
Am I right or wrong in my ruminations that, as a body politic, we have become a passive nation?
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Asuncion David Maramba is a retired professor and book editor; columnist since 1984 and contributor to the Inquirer since 1992.
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