Pinoy 2000 blues

Isyu 23 Oct 1995

A new Philippines is rising out there, sey ni FVR to his friends in Hawaii. I swear, I marvel at his optimism, or should I say, illusions. Obviously it’s our good old Philippines he’s talking about, where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and plentier, precisely because our leaders keep selling us out to foreign investors who tend to take the profits and run.

Kung sabagay, rising nga naman ang prices ng mga bilihin. And rising din soon, a centennial tower cum museum cum mall sa Rizal Park, if FVR gets his way, and I hope he doesn’t. I’m with Amando Doronila and Bambi Harper on his one. Not only does such a tower promise to be both aesthetically displeasing and environmentally unsound, it would also be a monument to the Ramos administration’s deplorable values and sense of priorities. A tower, when people are hungry and barely surviving? We don’t deserve a tower.

Say ng isang astrologer on TV, suwerte kay FVR ang solar eclipse. Ibig ba nitong sabhin, suwerte rin itong biyahe niya? Ewan ko. Parang matimbang din yung puna ng maraming kolumnista na tuwing bibiyahe si FVR (at least in the last two trips), may krisis na nagaganap sa bayan nating kanyang iniiwan. First it was Flor Contemplacion, then it was rice. Kung maniniwala tayo sa astrology, puwede ring maniwala sa kasabihang these things come in threes. So what or who might the third crisis involve? Well, how about the situation of lahar victims in Pampanga’s evacuation centers and resettlement sites which have become festeringly desperate since typhoon Mameng? I dread what the next typhoon will bring.

A year ago I wrote (with Jorge Arago) the script for a documentary film Gerry Gerena’s From Victims to Victors, all about what government is doing, through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Mt. Pinatubo Commission, to help our kababayans displaced by lahar onslaughts. In the romantic (and rare) version of the story, victims eventually make it to resettlement sites where they live happily ever after (sort of) kasi they’re also given land to till. In real life, however, there is little land and few jobs to be had, most resettlers relying on dole-outs and food-for-work schemes to survive. Meanwhile the waiting list for new housing units in new resettlement sites gets longer and evacuation centers become dirtier and more crowded. No wonder many victims keep going back to their old roofs and haunts.

Sabi sa Public Forum, it’s a cultural thing, itong pilit na pagbalik agadng maraming biktima sa kanilang mga bayang natabunan ng lahar, kahit bubong lang ang binabalikan nila. Matindi raw kasi talaga ang attachment ng Pinoy sa bayang kinagisnan. Ganoon? Hindi kaya dahil wala silang better options, as in, walang lupang malipatan at pondong panimula?