What is happening?

FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - May 17, 2020 - 12:00am

Today would have been my father’s 101st birthday. I imagine, had he lived, he would have passed away by now. But he was killed by the Japanese when he was 26. I have spent my life missing him, replacing his presence with a granduncle and another uncle who was a priest. Now all of them are gone. Every time I miss one of them I remind myself always of how lucky they are to be gone.

What has happened to our world? It has become such an awful place to live in. Let me go back in time, not too long ago. Let’s go back to election time five years ago. Then there was only one candidate I voted for. That was Grace Poe. She was the most intelligent of them all, a highly decent woman. She did not put on any airs. I liked and respected her.

But I had friends with other ideas. They wanted a serious change in government. They voted for the man who would bring that. “What kind of change do you want?” I used to ask because the candidate they were campaigning for had absolutely no appeal to me. All the stories about women falling down at his feet, to me, seemed unbelievable. He did not look that good. He did not speak that well. Where did his appeal come from?

But my opinions never seem to matter very much. He won the election here. Unfortunately, even Donald Trump won the election in the US. What’s happening?, I wondered then. Something is going wrong in the world.  I should have known then that, when people who don’t look like outstanding leaders are elected, we should become alert, be very careful. Their looks might be discreet messages from God. “You see his looks?” God whispers. “That’s the kind of president you are going to get. Tall, dark and...” That’s for us here. For those over in the US, they got a character who looks like that old cartoon character Gumby, fattened up with a million pounds and colored two shades paler than shocking pink.

It took a few years for me to realize that the world is being punished. See, I am not a political person. I immensely dislike politics, don’t listen to local news, instead wait for it to be told to me. But once in a while I satisfy my curiosity. I occasionally watch the State of the Nation address to see if he has learned to speak better and if his speech makes sense. Also I write about my ordinary life that mirrors your ordinary life, and so you like to read me. This formula works for me. I have been writing now for 32 years.

I remember accidentally watching TV and catching the President muttering, in an ill-disguised tone full of vengeance, about not renewing the franchise of ABS-CBN because he paid them P2 million during the election but they did not run his ads. That did not happen only once. People heard it a few times. Even people who do not habitually listen to him. I dismissed what I had heard, thought it was bad PR for his position as president of a country, but I never suspected he would do it.

Then suddenly, when you least expect it, when almost the entire country is under quarantine for COVID-19, the National Telecommunications Commission closes ABS-CBN! Am I expected to believe that the NTC did not get a command from the highest up? Am I expected to believe that it was Senator Cayetano who told them to do it? Please don’t be insulting. The country is not as stupid as you think. We hear you say inane things. Furthermore we remember what you said when someone in your government does it and we know in our bones it was at your command.

Ordinary people were insulted when you closed down ABS-CBN. Their outrage made you aware of your mistake, your crime. Suddenly, you switch to denial. You said you accepted their apology and no, did not order their closure, no way you would ever do a thing like that. People are usually quiet but I know they know you ordered it and they will never forget. I will never forget. I worked 33 years in advertising and I dealt with ABS-CBN professionally. We never had an impeccable relationship, but nevertheless I respected them as I respected everyone and everything around me. That sudden closure was a sure sign of an inability to respect other institutions and other people, because now you feel you have the power to do so.

Now you realize you probably talked too much. You are opening them up again. Giving them until October 2020. The Silent Majority is watching. They learned from Marcos that nobody has absolute power except God. God and the Silent Majority are on the same side.

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