On Harold Camping, Antonio Leviste, Frank Chavez, A Stray Cat, Loyal Friendships, Justin Bieber
Today’s the first day after the end of the world.
I respect other people’s beliefs, even if they contradict mine, even if they defy logic. I didn’t even entertain the possibility that the Lord Almighty has revealed to Harold Camping of Family Radio Worldwide – EXCLUSIVE! – that doomsday has been scheduled for yesterday.
It is against my nature to gloat, but it got me seriously thinking about the God-like powers of the mass media.
I understand the human need for a connection to the divine. I’m just sad that some people, like trekkers stranded on a desert, will desperately cling to a mirage to assuage their thirst, to fill that emptiness.
In our search for the sacred, have we forgotten to discern what we believe to be true from what we want to be true?
Who Wants To Be A Prisoner?
Last Wednesday, Antonio Leviste was arrested in front of his condominium in Makati because he was supposed to be in Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa for homicide. So they put him in jail.
Leviste, a former governor of Batangas, was convicted for killing his aide Rafael De Las Alas in 2009, sentenced for 6 to 12 years, and has been in and out of his cell ever since.
I am trying to look at this issue, as with most things, as objectively as I can. Let’s start with the things everybody agrees on.
First: Jail conditions are totally inhumane.
Second: It is a common practice to bribe prison officials and wardens to get a separate cell and other stuff.
Third: long-term prisoners who become eligible for living-out status get the freedom to build their own quarters and simulate a normal life within the compound.
Fourth: a prisoner with a valid medical reason gets taken to a hospital under guard.
A lot of people are reacting as if these things don’t happen, as if it’s a sin to want to be protected from hardcore criminals and subhuman conditions.
Some people say it’s unfair that wealthy convicts get preferential treatment. That observation is justified, and it is really unjust.
Trying to change society is admirable, and it all begins with pointing out what needs to be changed.
But what would you do if you were in that situation? Wouldn’t you use whatever means at your disposal to find a reprieve from suffering?
Why We Need Frank Chavez
Filipinos who work abroad are charged a fee by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, a government agency under the Labor Department. The pooled money is supposed to be for the, well, overseas workers’ welfare.
In the 2004 elections, the then President Gloria Arroyo authorized the use of OWWA funds to distribute Philhealth cards to voters. Part of the funds went to the renovations of our embassies in Egypt and Oman. Another chunk went to the Iraq war.
Independent human rights lawyer and former Solicitor General Frank Chavez filed a case against the Arroyo administration for the diversions of the trust fund in 2004.
The then Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo and the present outgoing one, Merceditas Gutierrez, both sat on the cases, and nothing has happened to this day, but Chavez is valiantly reminding the media of this irregularity that is nearly being buried from the constant avalanche of new news events.
The serious consequences became apparent, to cite the most recent incidents, with the government’s failure to expeditiously expedite the repatriation of OFWs from the earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, and from the political chaos in Egypt and Libya – all because there are no funds left.
Lawyers may quibble but when lives are at stake, then it goes beyond technicalities. What the previous regime did was wrong, and Frank Chavez, God bless his suspenders, is right.
We need Frank Chavez, and I hope that we could prove we deserve an advocate like him.
His tireless and unselfish dedication to uphold the rule of law makes him worthy to be given the power to surmount bureaucracy and actually get things done.
Superstar Stray Cat
Last Monday I was sitting outside a tailor shop in Santa Ana in Manila under the shade of a tree. The summer heat was demonic though it was cooler where I was, compared to my apartment which doesn’t even have air conditioning.
A ragamuffin kitten passed, and I instinctively called out: Swswswswswswsws!
He came, climbed up to me and was soon sitting on my knapsack on my lap as comfy as you please.
A Friendship To Last A Lifetime
I just attended last Wednesday my nth funeral – I mean, not mine, but I’ve been to so many I actually lost count. It pains me still that those include the wakes of my first best friend Noel De Los Angeles in 2007 and my second best friend Gilbert Bolante in 2009. I was also there for a really close friend, Jimmy Locsin, in 2003.
This time it was for the aunt of another old friend, Gary, a good friend since 1993. What makes it poignant is his mother died just last month. It was in the same room at Loyola Chapels in Guadalupe in Makati.
I value friendship more than words can say. As I posted in Facebook last week: If you earn my respect, then you deserve my loyalty. No man intimidates me so my words are true.
I may not be a party animal – I don’t drink and really feel out-of-place in boisterous crowds – but in your hour of need, I’ll be there.
If our friendship is worth keeping, then you can lean on me. Depend on it. That’s what friends are for.
I Smile, I Smile, I Smile!
“’Cause my cards are on the table, and I’m willing, and I’m able…”
I love that line from U Smile by Justin Bieber, who was in Manila recently.
I’m not really a fan. I just love music, and as I wrote in another essay, music loves me too.
I find the song really cute: it says everything yet tell you nothing.