Episode 17: The Year That Was, And How The Times They Are A’Changin

(Yes, I know I said I’d work on Part 2 of the divorce piece – and in fact it’s finished – but recent events made me reconsider putting that out as the next entry, or even at all. So for the time being, Part 2 of “Divorced From Reality” is shelved. In lieu of this, I present my take on some of the more interesting goings-on these past few months. Enjoy!)

The Times They Are A’Changin
Bob Dylan – 1964

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

Devastation in the wake of Typhoon Sendong

Devastation in the wake of Typhoon Sendong - via newsinfo.inquirer.net

Sendong left the South devastated, with the number of casualties and missing persons just recently exceeding a thousand. Easily this has been the worst calamity to hit the Philippines in years, and yet storms of this magnitude have become increasingly frequent, the patterns irregular. Surely, climate change has made its impact, but never underestimate the power of man to create his own clusterfuck as he continues to cut down trees illegally, ignore forecasts and predictions made years in advance, and deny all responsibility when the shit hits the fan.

It is easy to blame national leadership for this, specifically one *coughPNoycough*. I’ve commented on this more than enough on my Twitter, but a more insightful perspective can be found here. Suffice for me to say here that PR issues should never be at the forefront of discussions involving calamities.

For sure, some national agencies such as PAGASA and the NDRRMC must rethink their strategies and upgrade their warning systems, as well as their relief operations procedures. Climate change is a reality we can no longer afford to ignore nor underestimate.

Our prayers and support continue to go to our brothers and sisters in the South. God be with you. BarakAllahu feekum.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

For weeks now, PNoy’s critics have flip-flopped on what exactly to call him: lazy do-nothing, devious dictator, evil genius, dumbass. He’s been compared to a whole range of inanimate objects, animals, people. Heck, he’s even been compared to Hitler.

Hitler, on being compared to PNoy

Yup, it means what you think it means.

It’s easy to see why. The roller-coaster that started with the Truth Commission, turned corkscrew with the TRO on the DoJ’s watchlist order on CGMA and Sec. De Lima’s defiance of the order and culminated with the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona has left everyone in shock.

Is PNoy overstepping his boundaries as President? While many are quick to call these moves excessive, dictatorial even, others see this as squarely within the scope of the Presidency.

My initial reaction was, “Hey critics, remember when you kept complaining that PNoy didn’t have a backbone? Well, do you also remember that saying, ‘be careful what you wish for?’ Yeah, that’s what it is.”

A quick reaction to Fr. Bernas’ recent article. Fr. Bernas presents what seems to be a very reasonable analysis of what is going on – only problem is that it works on the assumption that PNoy’s use of the Truth Commission as an error of the SC is merely an afterthought, in contradiction to Malacanang’s original response of acceptance of this decision. Color me a conspiracy theorist, but I believe that far from being gung-ho and anything-goes about its actions, Malacanang has known what it has been doing from the very beginning.

I believe that starting with the Truth Commission, Malacanang has been doing two things. First, it has been pushing the limits of what the Corona-led Supreme Court will allow this administration to get away with. Second, it has been closely monitoring how the CJ has been voting and deciding cases, to see if what we all suspected all along was true: that CJ Corona is not impartial in voting and deciding on cases involving CGMA.

And boy did they hit paydirt in the TRO on the DoJ Dept. Circular No. 41 that Sec. De Lima had used to prevent the Arroyos from leaving the country. In defying an order by no less than the Supreme Court, the DoJ was effectively committing illegal acts. Yet until now, Sec. De Lima is far from being sanctioned by the SC, and at worst can be found guilty for indirect contempt (whose penalty is a fine and/or 6 months jail, either of which is easily pardonable). Further, public support for this was proof positive that the people had lost confidence in the SC’s ability to be impartial when it comes to GMA.

As for PNoy’s open involvement in the impeachment movement, I think it is perfectly within the rights and powers of the President to call upon his allies and party mates to engage in political action – including impeaching the Chief Justice. PNoy’s involvement in all this only “taints” the process inasmuch as it makes the agenda clear. After all, where in the Constitution does it say that the President cannot ask his partymates to file an impeachment complaint? 😉

Corona, impeached - via http://www.philippinenewsdaily.com

And BOOM went the dynamite.

Far from being a heavy-handed tactic, it is an unusual stroke of genius to use the Constitutional provision allowing an impeachment complaint filed by at least 1/3 of the House to go directly to Senate for trial in an almost precision-strike manner. Everyone got caught by surprise, especially Corona. As a result of this, we will forever know that 1) Corona’s speechwriter sucks lemons, 2) Corona is no orator by a long shot, and 3) Corona and his allies had no idea how to truly respond to this.

I suspect that as we come closer to the next SONA, we will see Malacanang under PNoy make unprecedented moves to pave this “Daang Matuwid” with political reforms.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

HOR_yuno

Y U NO Guy, giving ythe House of Representatives a piece of his mind.

In case you didn’t notice, I openly support the Reproductive Health Bill, and these past few months have seen a surge of support for the movement, culminating in a peaceful occupation of SB Park across Batasan as a show of support for the RH Bill. The message is clear: The RH Bill ought to be passed, and it ought to be passed NOW. It is 16 years late. Passing it must be the priority of the House of Representatives when it reconvenes next year.

Regrettably, some people still don’t get it.

On the one hand, it saddens me to think that some Filipinos are still in the Middle Ages when it comes to reproductive health. I see this as a negative result of Church propaganda utilized to retain its stranglehold on Filipino morality and values.

It didn’t have to be this way. The Church could have easily said that for the RH Bill to be acceptable, Catholics must have an option in the law to refuse to either use artificial contraceptives or, as with medical practitioners, refuse to provide such – which are already in the law anyway. Instead, it engaged in this “fight for the Filipino soul,” making various, conflicting claims about what artificial contraceptives did or failed to do, and made moral arguments based on a Papal encyclical that wasn’t even binding.

The last things I will say about this is: no one in his right mind will argue on one hand that condom use is not open to life and is therefore immoral, and on the other hand claim that condoms also fail and can result in unwanted pregnancies. Neither would a sane person claim as fact that pills consistently cause breast cancer, but not make such a “factual” claim to the FDA, who has the power to ban such “dangerous” substances.

On the other hand, I find it equally sad that so-called Randian “Libertarians” will argue against dole-outs and government subsidies, and insist that people be instead enabled to purchase such artificial contraceptives on their own power – when these same people are often NEVER part of the urban poor, much less the rural poor, and could never understand how dire the situation really is. I find it hilarious that these people will object to someone using “their” tax money for purposes they disagree with – but have no problems with using tax money “belonging” to other people (by their logic) for their own benefit, such as guaranteeing SSS benefits, constructing roads, subsidizing public utilities like water and electricity, and maintaining a police force. “Selfish” is the simplest way to describe them.

Either side agree on one thing: they do not want to see the House of Representatives put the RH Bill to a vote, despite their own claims that the RH Bill is “dead in the water.” One group claims they’ve got the numbers, the other side claims reason is on their side. So, why so afraid of the vote?

House members have made assurances that the RH Bill would be voted upon early in Q1 of 2012. Time to put up or shut up.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

With all that’s happened this year, is there reason to believe that perhaps this coming year will be better than the last?

Change Ahead sign

It's closer than you might think.

Change is coming. Political, economic, social. What we are seeing now is an upheaval, a re-aligning of our fundamental framework as a nation. Although I pray otherwise, I expect that things will get messier before things get better.

Still, I believe that things will eventually get better. I think that slowly, our culture is changing, from one that tolerates corruption and inadequacy to one that condemns it; from one that accepts defeat and failure as reality to one that strives to go past stumbling blocks; from one that says, “Puwede na” to one that says, “Puwede pa.”

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

~ ~ ~

On the personal front, Bryce’s arrival has been nothing short of game-changing. For starters, I now know how to type with one hand (as I usually use the laptop carrying Bryce on one arm), and thanks to the sleepless nights keeping Bryce occupied, I have now finished watching the original Macross series, and have now started on Samurai 7, which I expect to finish this week.

In all seriousness, Bryce has been a bundle of joy, and I’m happy that the whole family has come together to care for him.

Happy holidays everyone, and here’s to 2012 (and hoping the Mayans didn’t *really* mean that it’s the end of the world next year 😉 )!

~ ~ ~

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