COMMENT: Yearend Notes 2: On Quips and Quirks

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, December 31, 2013 – Quips and quirks are spices of life. Time was, in the days of kings, that fools were the fonts of wisdom. The serious often forget the light side of life, forgetting that beauty is God’s blend of colors, moods and sense in perfect balance. God the Perfect Cook wants man to enjoy the feast of life.

But man with woman included immersed in pride, pretensions and ill-found powers sees and senses differently. God has given man science for him to fashion out of God’s creation his own feast of life to enjoy; he misuses it to unmake what God has made. Does God want the likes of “Yolanda” to descend on man with all her fury? Of course, not! But man heeds not God’s endless warnings.  As Tolstoy said, “God sees the truth but only waits.”

God will not raise a finger while He waits. Feast of life or feast of strife is man’s option. He waits to see if man would ever drink from the fools’ fonts of wisdom.

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Philippine presidents are known to be “workaholics” – becoming so after their election. Of the four presidents after Marcos, this may be said: Cory Aquino sustained “workaholicsm” with prayers and – we heard – occasional mahjongg sessions; Fidel Ramos, with physical and mental fitness routine and his ever ready thumbs-up, “Kaya natin ito”; Joseph Estrada, with midnight cabinet alcoholic sessions; Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, with prayers, too – we are made to believe – and taray; and Noynoy Aquino III, with his popularity, chain smoking and incessant coughing.

Were they workaholics before their election to the presidency? That’s the momentous question!

And, as momentous, too, if not more: What has their “workaholicsm” to show? Cory Aquino returned “freedom and democracy” – and, ironically, the seeds of an evil political system that has taken firm roots within a generation. Ramos – by official reports — made the Philippines into a new economic tiger of Asia that, again, by another official report, Estrada cast down the pit for Macapagal-Arroyo to rescue. Arroyo’s ten-year regime, reported as a tremendous economic success, is condemned by Aquino III as corrupt and had Arroyo detained for plunder.

Now, Aquino, more than half-way into his six years in power, has claimed to have cast the Philippines into a new economic tiger of Asia. And while admitting like all other presidents in past that economic manna has barely trickled down to the poor – the prices of goods and services ever rising despite reporting controlled inflation — Aquino is struggling to extricate his government from the clutches of the alleged Arroyo corruption it has abetted.

Will the hands that persecute and prosecute Arroyo spare Aquino when he steps down from the presidency 30 months after? The quirks of Philippine presidency have long been written on the wall to entertain the people in pain – feeling or unfeeling.

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Historically, however, Filipinos – it seems — love to suffer and are even proud of or are enjoying their suffering. In a talk to the faculty and students of Notre Dame College of Cotabato in the late 1950s, the writer Celso Carunungan observed: “We celebrate our defeats, not our victories – the Fall of Bataan, the Battle of Tirad P ass”, and so on.

He recited the ending of “Bayang Magiliw” , our national anthem – “Aming ligaya na pag may mang-aapi ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo. Then he twitted: Bakit ikinaliligayang “mamatay” (Why be happy to “die”); bakit hindi “pumatay” (Why not “kill”)?”

That, too, is a quirk in the Filipino character. Just to a limit, beware. For the slightest provocation he will kill.

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Filipinos love the “big bang” even at the risk of getting “banged up big”. Pictures of victims “writhing in pain” or “in bloody mess” are postcards of “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year”.

Since December 2002, no firecrackers or pyrotechnics or gunfire deafened the Christmas or New Year’s eves or choked with powder smokes the streets of Davao City – in fact, at any other eves and nights of the year in the city and in the farms. For banning the joy that kills, other cities and towns in the country see Davao City and Mayor Digoy Duterte a killjoy.

Who would listen to Shakespeare’s fool catechesis: Fool: “Why do people bang, boom. bang?” Merrymaker: “To enjoy.” Fool: “They lose limbs and life. Why do they bang, boom, bang?”

This year, Zanboanga City and Kidapawan City have seen the wisdom of the fool of Davao City. They have joined the ban. And, so have Baguio City and some neighboring towns. What quirk! The tribe of the killjoys is increasing?

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President Aquino’s communication specialists have done two excellent speeches for him that the people might see what they don’t see or refuse to see and believe what they don’t believe or refuse to believe. Well paid, well done!

The first, last December 28, incidentally Innocents Day, reaffirms: No distraction will stop the administration from fulfilling its promises to the people with only two and a half years left before it steps down.”  The President vows to “continue to focus on improving the economy, alleviating poverty and fighting graft in 2014.” (The Philippine Star, December 29, 2013: With 914 days left in his term, Noy has no time for Cha-cha)

PCOO (Presidential Communications Operations Office) Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. pays glowing tribute to the President: “The people are keeping faith with him because they know he is steadfast in remaining trustworthy.  With such a bedrock of strength, it would be extremely difficult for detractors or enemies to undermine his credibility or erode his support base.”


The President has set high standards for himself and those working with him, “Yet he is not a harsh taskmaster. He is a gentle persuader. When one works with him, one feels the passion and compassion that drive him toward the goals he has set for the country. He knows and believes he was called to serve and he means to do his best every day. Instead of ‘power’ I think he believes more in drawing strength from the people’s trust and support. He often reflects, ‘How could we have done better?’’’

Blinded by the glow are: “What are the promises? What have been fulfilled? What are still to be fulfilled?”

The second, his New Year’s message, bids farewell to corruption. (Philippine Daily Inquirer, December 30, 2013: Aquino: Last vestiges of corruption getting eradicated); rehashed, (Philippine Daily Inquirer, December 31, 2013: Aquino: We’re winning battle vs corruption).

The President describes his last 30 months as the “last two minutes” of his term and urges Filipinos to remain on the path of righteousness and reason, claiming that his policy of good governance is now “eradicating the last vestiges of corruption” with special reference to “the prosecution of those who committed wrong and abused” the Priority Development Assistance Fund — the “dregs of the old dispensation,” who would become “desperate and would try to derail” his administration’s political, social and economic reforms.

His final appeal: “We are entering another year on the right path and, as in basketball, we are going into the last two minutes. In the final stretch of my term, we will waste no time. Every meaningful contribution of each Filipino will lead us to progress.” Outlining the achievements of his administration since he took office three years ago, he said the people, his “bosses”, would “determine the direction” that he would take in his last two years in Malacañang.

Attributing to good government under his administration the Philippines’ achieving the “highest recorded GDP [gross domestic product] growth in Southeast Asia and one of the highest in Asia”, he exhorts all: “Let us always side with the truth and with our fellowmen. Let us remain on the side of reason and accountability and take advantage of every opportunity that will lead to the greater good of the greater number.”

What lofty thoughts and ideals in infectious rhetoric!

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But cynics and quirks – the netizens of social media – are not about to join President Aquino’s million “bosses” in “seeing” and “believing”. Of the 406 comments the Philippine Daily Inquirer has received, most of the quips are from the cynics, a few from the vulgar. Following, we are quoting three:

From “farmerpo:  “dregs of the old dispensation,” — blaming ‘the last dispensation ‘for last four years and looking forward to doing more of the same ‘in the last two minutes’. Talk is cheap, time is running out fast. Get the ‘dregs’ in the can and this ‘dispensation’ may yet make its mark not only on corruption but on the corrupt. They just changed collar and not a one other than GMA is ‘inside’. Happy New Year.


From: “pinayako: Mr President, if the farthest we can achieve is clog the office of the ombudsman where cases are submitted to HER for review whether they can stand in court or dismissed for lack of merit, how is that winning the battle? Isn’t that too premature to say when the people are expecting these people to have their day in court while those charged with plunder to stay in jail since those cases are non bailable?

For as long as NOT even one case is filed with SB, especially those involving JPE and the other senators, how can that be considered winning the battle against corruption? We’ve had enough of the line “it takes time….”

There is a huge difference between exposing corruption in gov’t and actually filing cases, give them a day in court and finding them guilty based on strong evidences. We’re all looking forward to see a couple brought to the slammer as SOON as actual cases are filed against them. Until then, zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

From: “AIbert_Einstein: UTOT mo! Ni isang Politician walang naparusahan, ayun pa nga’t pinakawalan ang killer na Leviste. Si Napoles, ayun Napoles pa din, pinakakawalan sa gabi para di hagip ng camera ng media. Ay sus Mr. President, mahiya ka naman sa Tatay mo!

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Farewell, 2013! Welcome, 2014! Life in the next 30 months will surely be spicy. Full of QUIPs and QUIRKs! Of the cynicism, vulgarity and wisdom from the fonts of fools, “God sees the truth but waits.” Manna may continue to not trickle down from heaven; but the Filipino poor, used to broken promises, will ever be sustained by their laughter in their purgatory and hell.

To everyone and all, enjoy the “Sound of Optimism”A Prosperous New Year!