27 November 2006

There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is in having lots to do and not doing it. - Mary Wilson Little

A month and half of nothing. Since that time, I've had a major bout with writer's block, which partly explains why I haven't posted anything in a while. But I must admit that part of it is also laziness.

But I agree, there is some fun in having lots of things to do and not doing it...or at least putting it off. Not that I think it's a good thing, procrastination that is, but there is an element of fun in it. Whatever, I know I've been meaning to post something here the past few days, I just kept putting it off. Then, I turned on the computer and decided, if I don't do this now, I probably won't be doing any posting in this blog for a long, long, long time.

So, what did the past month and a half bring me? Well, I went home to Baler for a week (Oct 28-Nov 4), saw Casino Royale a week ago (best Bond movie I've seen in a long, long, long time [yes, I have this thing for long, long, long...]), and my first movie since Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest. I can't even remember when I saw that movie, but I'm sure it's been months. I'm looking forward to seeing Happy Feet with Ben, and then I think the next movie I'll see will be Babel.

Well, Christmas is less that a month away. Looking at my budget, I see that I'm going to be really short this year for gifts, etc. I've got some stuff already, but still have lots more shopping to do. Ay-yay-yay, with the peso having appreciated against the dollar, I'm now making a bit less that I used to. Unfortunately, prices of goods, although a bit steady these days, are at the same level as when I was making a bit more, thus the crunch. Ugh...and it's gift giving season too. Oh I know, I'm not required to give gifts, but I feel good giving gifts. I mean I like to see the smile on another person's face when I hand over a gift (and not just on Christmas) which is why I've been a bit sad the past couple of years because I haven't done a good job with my gift-giving (always late).

Changing subject (and different date - 29 Nov) ...my friend Carrie sent a link to the Philippine Daily Inquirer's editorial yesterday. Another piece on one of the dumbest morons ever to take a public office in the Philippines. Check this out:

(Editorial, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 28 Nov 2006)

IT IS a rare achievement to alienate local and international opinion in one fell swoop, but Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez has done it. With one snarl, he managed to offend Cebuanos, activists (at home and abroad), Pakistanis, Indians and Hong Kongers, and nearly everyone who is interested in the upcoming Asean Summit. He proclaimed the Mactan Strait to be shark-infested, and with his statement threatening to feed protesters to the sharks swarming in its waters, Gonzalez set the tone not for a time of civic pride for Cebuanos but for a state of siege in the entire country. With a justice secretary like this, what need has the Department of Tourism or even the country's security forces, of enemies?

To be sure, Gonzalez is not alone in his fire-breathing rhetoric; activists have vowed to stage a showdown in Cebu City. But if only Singapore has, thus far, managed to keep protesters at bay during similar events, it seems neither sensible nor practical for Gonzalez to crow that Cebu will be turned into a garrison state for the duration of the summit, as it is on the verge of an insurrection or crawling with foreign suicide bombers. Talking about putting up an "iron curtain" seems unbecoming of an official of what remains officially a liberal democracy. Such language sounds like the ranting of someone afflicted with a severe case of paranoia.

The people of Cebu and the rest of the country expect that security precautions will be tight, and that no effort will be spared to secure both the residents of the city and all those headed to and from the summit. Certainly such a high-profile event will attract its share of organized and spontaneous troublemakers. The political situation and larger regional or even global concerns will find expression in protest actions, and what the Philippines has to prove, because of our own history and national principles, is that we can respect democratic space while ensuring proper security during the summit. All these are par for the course in international events of this sort, and no one needs the secretary of justice to brag about how many soldiers and policemen have been called to duty, or how stringent security will be.

An international gathering meant to create regional and international amity, and which gives the country an opportunity to put its best foot forward, needs dire warnings about foreign agents provocateurs least of all. What good do publicly released instructions about harassing visitors from India or Pakistan accomplish? It will only make international terrorists, if bound for the Philippines, use passports other than the Indian and Pakistani ones Gonzalez has declared to be intrinsically suspicious. After Gonzalez's statements, no Filipino who has ever experienced harassment in a foreign airport would ever have cause to complain. Anyone anywhere can correctly say that it's what Filipinos do to foreign visitors.

As it is, Cebu City will find its resources stretched to the limit during the summit. There has been a remarkable sense of civic pride and cooperation among Cebuanos as they prepare for their city's international coming out party. The least they expect is for the rest of the Philippines to lend them moral support. Riding roughshod over national and international sensibilities doesn't count as moral support. It promotes mental anguish.

An appeal for vigilance and cooperation in security arrangements would have been not only beneficial but also appreciated. If there's one thing all Filipinos agree on, it's that one of our national virtues is the graciousness, openness and liberality of our hospitality. Being a good host means keeping our guests safe, and this the country has pledged to do. Muttering darkly about associates of Osama bin Laden, fake passport-bearing terrorists, tens of thousands of soldiers determined to shuttle delegates from one location to another by force if need be and dropping protesters into the mouths of hungry sharks only makes the government look foolish and a dissident community even more determined to flout local feelings by insisting on confrontation instead of peaceful assembly.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had better rein in Gonzalez before the country starts wondering if his statements are not intended to sabotage the summit.

Let's face it, this government is full of monkeys (I hope I don't offend any), but this guy is up there on top. For the life of me, I cannot understand why Arroyo is keeping him in office. Oh well, maybe I do understand...she's just as bad as he is. Reading stuff like this makes me wonder if there's anything to hope for in the future.


At 7/12/06 3:17 PM, Blogger carrie said...

Ay totoo, playing truant is never more fun than when you're in danger of flunking hehe:P Must be why I've been blogging instead of studying hahah!:D

At 3/2/07 6:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I just read your blog, I wanted to just add my comments in this. I was born in India and I converted from Hinduism to Christianity when I was a child, because of this I had lost everything. In my twenties, I met a Filipino family and a woman who accepted me and gave me lots of love and hope. Because I am an "Indian national" I had to take visas and strict procedures to come to Philippines. Just to see the woman i love, I made a journey outside India to a third nation where I can earn well and visit her. I am currently a New Zealand resident and on way to New Zealand citizenship. I visit Cebu every year and I understand that there are many "Indian nationals" who enter philippines on fake visas etc, and I understand the need to be strict in monitoring it. But i think this has gone too far in calling every Indian who enters philippines as a potential terrorist and spying and snooping on them. i feel quiet distressed and upset. For me, my entire world and happiness is in the Philippines. I am asian inside, I lost one part of Asia long ago , and even living in many western countries I always felt that emptiness and I try to make it up in Philippines. My Indian passport has become a reason for lot of pain in my life now. I also feel India should now introduce biometric passports, but I feel very sad at Justice Gonzales comments that Indians should be included with arabs and others in this racial profiling and spying. I dont know what more to say except that I am very grieved and I hope this dont become an issue to me visiting the only nation on earth that God has given to comfort and strengthen me that is Philippines. I have to wait few more years struggling to get New Zealand or Australian citizenships. This huge journey through a third nation has taken me many years and make me so tired inside but with this kind of attitude against "indian nationals" in Philippines gives me no other choice.

At 4/2/07 5:46 PM, Blogger isa said...

To anonymous:

I'm really sorry that you have to go through so much racial discrimination and prejudice, and that we have so many bigots in our government. I hope you will continue to visit the Philippines and pay no attention to the morons like Gonzales who, for some reason or other, have the gall to think they're good public servants.


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