Saturday, October 06, 2018

The Precipice

Photo by Eric Welch on Unsplash

I vividly recall walking along the overpass that connected the Maharlika, the Igorot park and Sunshine grocery in Baguio City. This was in the early 2000's. Donning a maong jacket, I savored the mixture of the cool Baguio breeze, the distinct Baguio market smell, the cigarette smoke of some pedestrians and carbon monoxide wafting from the jeepneys below. This is where I saw many a crowd transfixed on their own journeys unmindful of the events and actions of others - until it touched them.

The lady in front was wearing a backpack. Behind her were two short male teenagers with unkempt hair. I could tell that they were from further up North. The hairstyle was quite common up there. Yung parang bunot and with the Star Wars like small hair braid at the side of the ear. Parang ayaw ata nila sa mga barbero. They also kept their bell bottom like dirty maong pants long and wore slippers despite the edge of their pants touching the ground. They also wore those leather vests or jackets that made them look like, well, let's be blunt here, poor cowboys.

They opened the bag of the lady as if in rhythm with the movements of everybody. You'll only notice if you're mindful. Slowly, they got the wallet out with nobody noticing - except me. Tired from a full load in the University of the Philippines Baguio, and hoping that I would get home in time, I was annoyed.

I was annoyed because I felt that I needed to to do something.

While they pocketed the wallet, I remembered that Sunshine had security guards posted near the overpass stairway. I followed the lady and the teens who were strangely still following their victim. At the precise moment when the lady, the teens and I were near the security guard, I held the jackets of the two and shouted at the guard and the lady at the same time. "Kinuha po nung dalawang eto ang wallet niyo. Mandurukot sila."

I was expecting a fight.

But the two were noticeably surprised and perturbed at the timing. Their eyes were wild-like, "We've been caught, oh no." They were partially immobilized by me but more because of the loud voice I commanded and the presence of armed guards.

I knew security guards didn't bother with these petty things (I have experienced this before and some really kept to their posts). But good enough that at the very least, he asked someone from the grocery to call the police. Wallet returned. No fight. Good. Pat in the back. Memories for me and something to write about after 17 or so years. That was my shortlived career as Batman.

Sometimes in my daily commute on that overpass, I'd read about a certain mayor from the far South and how he was linked to a certain group. In bold red letters, I would glimpse macabre headlines that seemed to exact a specific form of justice. Not the justice that we were taught in class or in the university, or the one by Plato, when he asks "What is justice?". This justice was the one some would say as the barbaric kind. The one that only God can exact on the transgressor.

"I wonder what it would be like if he would become President?" I'd mutter to myself.

Little did I know that my utterance would become a harrowing prophecy.

Fast forward to the future, where Facebook ruled, friends, relatives, strangers chimed for or against. They also posted some of those fist bumps. I wavered until the last day, when I voted for Mr. Palengke instead. Ugh. Would've voted for the Dark Horse for his humanitarian bent, in retrospect. But the smear campaign against him at the time, was really convincing.

My late father was historically connected to the Righteous Revolution of the 80's and was personally invited by the late Madam President. So, some of his friends would tarry on with practicing their essay writing skills on facebook where nobody would listen to their cliches.

These are different and difficult times.

Yeah, I agree with the principles of what you are saying since these are taught in most universities, textbooks, law books and even the Bible, but what solution do you propose? Wala.

"This is evil! He is Satan here on Earth!" My dad's friend would post.

Then my lola, (sister of my paternal grandfather) who I sometimes envision to be a vigilante herself, but is an old maid teacher instead would quarrel with this guy.

I know, I know, pero again, what solution do you propose?

I remember another one of my dad's friends, just in 2016. "People say this could be bad, this is wrong, but hey, look at it, 16,000,000 believed. I agree with everything you say. But God oftentimes does something that we don't understand. Maybe this bad thing, will lead to a good thing. Wouldn't your dad have believed the same and voted for him?"

"Nope. He wouldn't." I said.

The tools of the trade

I have a lot of junk wood that I keep around just in case. Sometimes, there would be difficult things in whatever carpentry thing I'm fixing and I would look around for some tool to help me. Sometimes, it was the darn worst of the worst thing, like an ugly piece of rock, or an imbalanced block of wood to help me. I'd try it. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn't. But when it did work, after I've used it, I'd just put it back from wherever pile I got it from and mutter quietly, "You're ugly, but you did a better job than a wrench or a real tool. Thank you." Or something like that.

So, tonight, we're at the precipice caused by that ugly piece of imbalanced wood.

"If it's cancer, it's cancer."

Surprisingly, the first thing I felt was pity and sorrow.

He was that imbalanced piece of wood. Maybe, just maybe, despite him cursing God and all, he for all that has been said and done, dislodged something that had not budged for a long time. A lot of people in my Christian circle, swear by him.

One of them is an educator from Iloilo. Gotta remember Iloilo.

Come on, if that isn't proverbial, then what is?

One of the men who carried out this 'dislodging' was a man who had a name that sounds like the Spanish word for sword. I looked it up. Sword in Spanish is Espada. By all accounts, in the news, in TV, on YouTube, this man is the real deal.

And he spoke the Word.

Yeah, I can be that discerning every now and then.

But as it is... More changes are due

I really would like to stop making these pronouncements as they have a tendency to come true. But then, ah, it's too late, eh?

Yep, more changes are coming. Perhaps, not in the flavor we wish they would be.

I make it a habit to watch the news before going to sleep.

That's a really bad habit.

I do most of this on YouTube. I'd look at stupid viral things, read the comments -- and wish the old Internet would come back.

The Old Internet? Well, that's the Internet before non-geeks got their cheap smart phones and got Free Facebook. In short, the time when our generation was cool. The time when Yahoo! Free email! Free blogs! were first heard.

In short, that's the time when Google's motto was still Do No Evil.

It's strange reading the minds of everybody on something that should be crystal clear and unequivocal. This is after all, the era of nihilism, excess narcissism  fake news, historical revisionism and what not.

Many people really shouldn't be on the Internet.

It's mind pollution.