Same-same to 2024

I have frequently written that the changing of the year is more dramatically a change in numbers, i.e., 2023 to 2024. Because of that change, other changes are triggered, but mostly procedural or administrative. Man’s physical life is greatly influenced by time, including his identity. A person with the same name but born at a different time as another born carrying the same name is a different entity altogether. Time makes many things neat and orderly, but time also makes everything smaller than its potential.

December 31 to January 1 is a simple change of a day – essentially. The same laws apply, the same rules, the same culture, the same taste, etc., except for the time stamp. That time stamp, though, is capable of making the legal as illegal, like official permits with expiry dates. However, there are established patterns that defy time stamps. Patterns are too powerful a system to experience great change just with the passage of one day to another. Our behavior, for example, needs much more than just a change of dates to change, especially for the better.

Climate change is now a mainstream concept and reality. Man resisted for a long time, and some still do, that a greater reality like the environment does not alter the way it does things, for better or for worse. For too long, the so-called modern man became oblivious to power of existence. The assumption is that everything except man had intelligence, could not create and follow systems, much less enforce them. Man’s arrogance, in the face of his helplessness with nature’s tantrums, has proven man’s potential for unlimited stupidity.

Because there are systems greater than man’s power, because there are laws and prescribed actions by nature that punish those who defy and pervert them, the thinking man sees a sense of balance. The balance is not exactly as we visualize it like a scale, but definitely it is as blind as we wish our justice system to be. The natural sense of balance works according to its own mandated order, with no favorites or demigods dictating to it. And this sense of balance is deeply intuitive in man. Some have called the whole existence as God, his sense of balance as justice, or karma, and man’s intuitive sense and acceptance of it as conscience.

This article is not a paper on philosophy, a treatise on existence, or an archaeology of the human sciences. It is just my understanding, crude or otherwise, of the existence I am part of. But it is so important to my perspective of everything that it is the foundation of how I see and understand things. Writing an opinion piece is not about just an issue but the context, great and small, that would affect or influence that issue – even if I do not specify it.

That is where we are now, how I see things at this moment, and what I believe the more probable roll-out of events in the near future may be. So, let us zoom into the beginning of 2024 in the Philippines.

Will things be better or worse? The most accurate answer I can come out with is: 1) better for those who prepared by their work and personal investments to make things better for themselves and their families – as things had been generally better for them in 2023, and 2) worse for those who were doing badly in 2023 and did nothing or little to meaningfully change their views and actions. In other words, life’s sense of balance, or justice, or karma, works in an established pattern that a change alone in the number of the year cannot significantly alter.

For those, therefore, who had been in a momentum of productive effort, opportunities should emerge that will make them sustain a positive pattern. At worst, they are better prepared for a collective downturn of events, like El Niño, natural disasters, economic slowdowns, and most of all, political conflict including violence. I do not have to say anything about those who have been in a downward spiral because 2024 will most probably contribute to their problems.

I want to point out some dynamics of the political dimension. I wish I could just minimize or disregard them, but it is impossible to do so for most Filipinos. Beggars can’t be choosers and 500 billion pesos in ayuda or subsidized assistance is almost a tenth of our annual budget and impacts on at least half of the Filipino population. Beggars will dance to the tune and beat of their masters, notwithstanding that we are in the 21st century. Beggar-ship is a state of dependence, and the 500 billion ayuda budget is clear evidence of that dependency.

The UNITEAM which dominated the last elections, one principal player in it having dominated the previous 6 years, and the other a family-in-waiting or a president-in-waiting for 36 years, is now no more except in name. That alliance is already a farce and might as well be taken down. As always, when the principal players of national politics in the Philippines focus on their ambitions more than visions and long-term programs for the Filipino people and nation, political turmoil will follow. Power and wealth, even on a national scale, are still too little for unmitigated ambition and greed.

It was written in the stars that a show of unity would be for the single purpose of political victory and the assumption of power. That had been achieved, though the manner by which it was done is becoming more subject to doubt about one-and-a-half years. Clean elections or not, massive vote-buying or not, Smartmatic or not, the deed is done and power has been transferred to the long-in-waiting. That show of unity, very transactional and temporary, is now meeting its destined ending.

We Filipinos are mostly not in the thick of the fight, but we will be in the thick of the poisonous fall-out, the deadly political radiation. Collective balance, justice, or karma.