Erratum: Mangulayon was a Manobo, not a Bagobo. Erratum: Mac Tiu is only 58 years old. I gave him two more years on account of — oh, never mind. It’s just that his personal information in the CV he emailed me had his birthday on 15 January 2006. I won’t sweat getting his age wrong. The person concerned did not get it right either.
But, sorry about those mistakes. I was not the one who sent in that article to the news agencies so I didn’t know also who to reach for edits before that came out. Bong, Mac and I could have played tag the last couple of weeks the way we were busy with our individual pursuits.
When SAS Dean Jess Manuta assigned me to write that article, I had to squeeze that in with my schedule for graduate work and preparations for the book launch for Fly on the Wall. The latter sure was stressful. The book was moving so fast that I was afraid I wouldn’t have anything left to sell during the launch! Now, definitely, I don’t have a book to sell anymore. Still I got people calling and emailing. I got six here but these are already reserved for Rey Magno Teves, Col. Jun Padilla, Mae Fernandez, Suzette Alino, Msgr. Joemarie Delgado, and Rudy Juanito.
Last words on the book then.
Therapist and writer Bob Elsey has this to say about Fly on the Wall — both the book and the writer. He delivered this during the launch:
Whether it’s a critique of the development of women’s pornography — and the drivel that little girls are hypnotized with — to sexual politics, Ms. Ilagan marches onward with each short essay into what are often social morasses without bottoms and seems to come out on top after wiping the sociological muck off of herself and getting back to dry land.
She holds a vigil for the country that she loves. We do not really know whether hope arises or, as the ‘fly on the wall’, she only observes the decay so prevalent in our institutions in the world today. This writer assumes that after each piece, Ilagan has to go somewhere to detox from the institutional and societal morbidity on which she often focuses. The darkness is however punctuated with accounts of hope, family, and nostalgia.
Like so many of us, she becomes a secret foxhole theologian when events like the invasion of Iraq point directly at the truly insane. She rails against the calm and awful numbing that goes on not just in her native country but throughout the world, as various forms of suicidal codependencies continue to make nice people do violent things to others ‘for their own good’.
There is a need for a stronger emphasis on the fact that most people and systems are just plain crazy and out of control. Some of us know that about ourselves. She tends to hold accountable those who can’t rather than those who won’t. Like a lot of idealists who launch into cynicism at the unfairness of it all; her work carries all the hurt, anger, shame, and sorrow that remains unresolved. Unresolved due to the downward spirals that often pass for social institutions these days.
She adequately chronicles the horror of things. The problem is that she has a social conscience while many do not. Her work is for those who are concerned with the present state of affairs in the world, not those who could care less. Unfortunately, psychopaths and sociopaths do not listen to those with conscience. They simply use the conscience of the decent to perform indecent acts. Their spiritual life depends only on the avoidance of pain, not the development of character.
Upon arriving in the Philippines, I was asked by a prominent intellectual what was the solution for corruption. My immediate response was “Integrity”. When pressed, I stated that integrity is the result of personal accountability coupled with a genuine spiritual life. Ms. Ilagan has that hope for all of us and often writes about the lack of it in many of us.
I don’t remember her stating it explicitly, but yes we are all being abandoned by the very institutions we would like to trust. That is the price of entry in a global Knowledge Revolution and the end of the Industrial Age. As this writer is a failed idealist who also was unable to change much with his prose, I suggest that her readers look into places where successes are taking place — like microbanking — as the death of the old age ushers in the new.
(Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan's column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to email@example.com. "Send at the risk of a reply," she says.)