A season of loss
About the biggest omission in President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address were words of hope and optimism, words to bring comfort and surcease to a people overtaken with fear and anxiety, words to reassure and set directions. Instead, what Filipinos got was a scolding, an arrogant dismissal of their dread, which, by the way, took a back seat to attacks on “oligarchs” and their alleged supporters and an obsequious bow to China.
A few days later came even worse news. In response to an open letter by over a dozen medical and health societies calling for a “timeout” in the face of a flood of COVID-19 cases in the wake of relaxed controls, PDuts grudgingly agreed to reimpose the stricter protocols of an enhanced community quarantine.
But after a passing, if grudging, acknowledgment of the health frontliners’ heroism, he then went on the attack, airing his resentment of their going public with their concerns, warning them that if they continued to call for a “revolution” he would replace all of them with military personnel and launch his own counter-revolution. From heroes to heels in a single speech — our frontliners must be reeling in confusion.
It turns out, as spokesperson Harry Roque later clarified, the mystifying reference to revolution (since the word never appeared in the open letter) was actually inferred from the lyrics of the Filipino translation of the song “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from the musical “Les Miserables.” The local version has since emerged as an anthem of sorts in protest rallies.
Well, the doctors and nurses weren’t singing in their open letter or referencing the song, so the inference must simply be attributed to the confused workings of the President’s addled mind.
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An unfortunate result of this contrived conflict has been the pitting of the health frontliners against police and military personnel (as said by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. in a mean tweet) and the public who must now suffer once more the deprivations of a strict quarantine.
This is diversion at its best, since the blame belongs not to medical personnel or police and military forces, or the civilians they’re supposed to serve, but the civilian authorities who’ve bungled the conception, planning, financing, and implementation of the government response.
It’s too convenient to start pointing fingers now, when, as the adage goes, more fingers are in fact pointing to the civilian authorities who’ve bungled the entire government approach. These officials should just follow their Great Leader’s advice to soak their face masks in gasoline and ingest the fumes of delusion.
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This has been a season of loss. Families are still plunged in mourning for their loved ones who passed away from or are currently struggling with the depredations of the coronavirus. Other families are locked in anxiety by the loss of livelihood and opportunity, the uncertainty of schooling for their children, even the stultifying boredom of a lockdown.
For businesses, the last five months or so has likewise been a season of farewells. So many establishments have shuttered for good in the face of an indefinite lockdown. And it’s not just the owners, managers, and staff who’re in mourning. Customers, too, have been saddened by the loss of the familiar, the sudden disappearance of favorite eateries and restaurants which provided shelter and good food in times of need.
Among these is The Chocolate Kiss Café on the second floor of UP’s Ang Bahay ng Alumni. Ina Flores Pahati, daughter of Choc Kiss co-founder Maline Flores, announced recently that the café will close permanently, beyond the current COVID-19 lockdown. Just another victim of this season.
Chocolate Kiss was a favorite destination whenever I or members of the family were in the vicinity of UP Diliman. While many rued the disappearance of their delicious pastries like Devil’s Food Cake, Carrot Cake, or Dayap Chiffon, I will particularly miss their baked potato. Yes, I know this is a fairly common comestible and extremely doable in the home kitchen. But there’s something about the Choc Kiss’ baked potato — steaming in its foil blanket and smothered with sour cream and crisp bacon bits — that provided savory comfort and familiarity.
Here’s a fond farewell then to a café beloved by the UP Diliman community. Although its commissary will still make its cakes available for order, nothing can replace the sense of community found in its cozy interiors.
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