Philippine Daily Inquirer
Fear and foreboding before May 9
That because a man is poor, he speaks ‘bastos.’ Excuse me? Blaming vulgar language on poverty insults the poor
OH, HAPPY day! My sister came in from Atlanta Sunday night, a bit delayed because of clouds and high winds out of Narita, but she’s here, safe and sound, and like a typical balikbayan, loving pugon pan de sal and eager for her first taho.
But over and above the edible goodies is the joy of being with family and friends from way back when. The intense heat notwithstanding, this is home. Nothing beats that feeling.
She was a bit unnerved to realize that she would be here through the elections, but was comforted to learn that it’s as messy here as it is in the US. We chatted until daybreak and shared our dismay and disappointment with what is happening here and in America.
We have barely two weeks before May 9 and I feel a sadness I cannot explain. The news reports fill me with fear and foreboding. I don’t dare speculate.
One expert still calls it anybody’s ball game. We are in the “last two minutes.” The pace is feverish. The fouls are getting dirtier by the minute. But no one blows the whistle.
This campaign has turned from ugly to disgusting. Yes, I have watched the video. And like you, I am sick to my stomach. The language is nauseating, gross, insulting, obscene and disrespectful. Where do we throw that filth? A garbage dump full of rotting trash infested by maggots would be too pristine.
A colleague complained to me the other day that there’s too much ado about nothing, that it was just normal “gutter-speak” and best forgotten.
I do not agree. Something so debased and foul cannot be dismissed. It is appalling to know that some think it is funny. To make matters worse, the infamous choice of words was blamed on having grown up in poverty; that because a man is poor, he speaks “bastos.” Excuse me? Blaming offensive and vulgar language on poverty insults the poor.
Like never before, candidates have tried to make political capital of their real or manufactured “humble beginnings.” The “poor boy makes good” concept sells big at the box office. They malign rivals who had better opportunities at a good education, as if a college degree was a minus instead of a plus factor for a future leader. I don’t get it.
I believe no matter the circumstances of your birth, everyone has the God-given capacity for kindness and compassion.
Food for thought
I came across an article by Suzy Kassem, American essayist, film director, poet and author of “Truth is Crying” and “Rise Up and Salute the Sun.”
I have selected some of her nuggets of wisdom about choosing a leader. Please read and take to heart. “To vastly improve your country and truly make it great again, start by choosing a better leader.
“Pick a leader from among the people who is heart-driven, one who identifies with the common man on the street and understands what the country needs on every level.
“Pick a peacemaker... one who unites, not divides... a cultured leader who supports the arts and true freedom of speech, not censorship.
“Pick a leader who chooses diplomacy over war... a leader with integrity, one who says what he means, keeps his word and does not lie to the people.
“Pick a leader who is strong and confident, yet humble... intelligent but not sly... one who encourages diversity, not racism, one who understands the needs of the farmer, the teacher, the doctor and the environmentalist.
“Pick a leader who will invest in building bridges, not walls; books, not weapons; morality, not corruption; intellectualism and wisdom, not ignorance; stability, not fear and terror; peace, not chaos; love, not hate; character, not immaturity; justice, not lawlessness; truth, not lies.
“Most importantly, a great leader must serve the best interests of the people first.
“In addition, a leader should always be open to criticism, not silencing dissent. Any leader who does not tolerate criticism from the public is afraid his dirty hands will be revealed under heavy light. Such leaders are dangerous because they only feel secure in the darkness.
“Only a leader who is free from corruption welcomes scrutiny, for scrutiny allows a good leader to be an even greater leader.
“And lastly, pick a leader who will make the citizens proud. One who will stir the hearts of the people so that the sons and daughters of a given nation strive to emulate their leader’s greatness.
“Only then will a nation be truly great; when a leader inspires and produces citizens worthy of becoming future leaders, honorable decision-makers and peacemakers.”
And then she also wrote, “Truth does not sit in a cave and hide like a lie. It wanders around proudly and roars loudly like a lion.” Alas, not all of us can hear it. In the meantime, while candi- dates are intoxicated by the lure of power and scramble at any cost for the favor of voters, the air we breathe has been rendered polluted and venomous. Friends and families are torn apart. Values are set aside. Decency is forgotten.
We must pray. The future of our country hangs in the balance. Who knows what awaits our beloved Philippines?