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King of Karma |

Young Star

King of Karma

- Paula C. Nocon of the Philippine Star’s YS -
Poor Michael Jackson. The Artist formerly hailed as the King of Pop was in the news twice last week, lynched in the court of public opinion yet again because of things that have very little to do with pop music or revolutionary dance moves.

First, it was because his nose was collapsing. According to medical experts, he needs another nose job—probably his 10th—just to keep his nose functioning. You know, to do things like smell flowers.

And second, because he had dangled his baby over the balcony railing of his fourth floor hotel room while fans below screamed in both horror and fascination.

If, like me and other twentysomethings, you had a coming-of-age experience when you first saw MJ’s glowing eyes at the end of his then-thrilling Thriller video, you would surely understand what it means to have your MTV-generation icon turn into a poster boy of freakiness. He just seemed to slowly descend into a downward spiral of madness just as his skin color changed from black to kayumanggi to a lighter shade of pale.

Call me a sucker, but I really do feel sorry for him. Take his nose, for example. He had the best intentions for it, I’m sure, and, like all of us, he went through all that plastic surgery simply because he wanted to look better. There’s that line in the film Three Kings, where an anti-American Arab asks Mark Wahlberg something like: "What’s up with Michael Jackson? What is it about America that makes a black man want to look like a white man?"

As you can see, it’s so easy to pass judgment on Michael only because he’s so weird. Who else in the world has had as much plastic surgery, has been charged with child molestation, has a ranch-zoo-amusement park called Neverland, has a glove on only one hand, and has Lisa Marie Presley as a bogus ex-wife? And everyone I gossip with about the latest Michael Jackson story seems to say the same thing:

"Well, he’s only getting what he deserves."

I guess this is how getting what you do deserve would work for someone as unique as MJ. He has had the best of everything, and now he’s getting the worst of everything. I don’t want to judge him, but I do wonder what he or his ancestors ever did to make his life the tabloid monstrosity that it is right now.

Before you start wondering why I’m gushing with sympathy over one of the most successful people in the history of music, or before you start concluding that I’m the mother of one of his children, let me just share an anecdote. It has something to do with Michael Jackson, nothing to do with plastic surgery, and everything to do with karma.

I’ll make this quick. Remember the time Michael Jackson came to Manila in 1997 for his last world tour? Well, I was there, in the front row.

How did I afford the P10,000 front row tickets? I was just a poor college student at that time, I couldn’t afford the tickets, I got in for free.

Did I sell my soul to do that? No, I sold pimiento sandwiches. Seriously. I posed as a sandwich vendor with a legitimate concert vendor VIP access ID.

How did I get the ID? My best friend had connections with the concert organizers.

Did I actually sell the sandwiches? Yes! After my best friend and I sold out our tray—we made P400—we didn’t leave the VIP premises like we were supposed to and just stayed on to enjoy the show.

Did we enjoy the show? You bet. We were so close to the stage we could see Michael’s eyeliner.

What did we do with our sandwich earnings? We turned it over to a charitable cause. That was why we were allowed to sell sandwiches in the first place. It was for charity.

Was I ever caught? Not then and there, but several months later. I was caught by karma. Two months after the concert I got a freak case of tonsillitis, missed my final oral examinations and flunked Theology.

What does flunking Theology have to do with my evil deed at the Michael Jackson concert? Everything. If I had taken my Theology seriously I would’ve understood that selling sandwiches for a charitable cause just to get in a Michael Jackson concert for free was immoral and unethical. The price I was supposed to pay for concert tickets was remunerated by the time and money I spent taking that Theology class again. My karmic debt was paid back fully, with interest.

And what does that story have to do with my column on Michael Jackson today? The universe and how it’s all connected. Cause and effect. What goes around comes around. You reap what you sow...

You only get what you deserve. They call it karma.

I’m no Buddhist or Hindi but I do believe in karma. The cosmic boomerang. All those times that I tried to manipulate other people or my environment for selfish ends ricocheted right back at me. The same applies to all those other times that I’ve seen other people being mean, unfair and cruel to other people. It all goes back tenfold.

Moreover, if Jaime Licauco and other mystics are right in saying that you can’t believe in karma without believing in reincarnation, I’ve also seen the cosmic boomerang hit not the evildoers themselves, but their children, their loved ones, their surroundings. I’ve even heard a cyberspace psychic say that karmic backlash occurs more ferociously now with information traveling at a faster rate. Scary.

And then I think about our country and all those things they say about us. That we’re a republic of collective karma. That we only get the leaders we deserve. That in a place like ours where people cannot properly administer justice, the universe will mete out justice in its own way. A news program anchor even opined that the reason for all our bad luck is that the corpse of Ferdinand Marcos has remained unburied—and that this is a freak violation of human law, a terrible omen of the biggest karmic debt that is still owed to those who suffered under the dictatorial regime. She said that putting FM’s body on display is a symbol of all that is wrong with our nation: justice is always denied to those who forget too easily.

Now that’s really creepy. It’s even freakier than MJ’s malfunctioning nose.

Karma moves in mysterious ways, and though we don’t know exactly when payback time comes, we know it works both ways—the bad that we do, and the good that we do. To paraphrase the song Galileo, it sucks to know that you might be "serving time for mistakes made by another in another lifetime..." but then again "it feels like some sort of inspiration, to let the next life off the hook."

Let’s hope it works this way. May the baby that Michael Jackson dangled off his balcony have a life a lot less stressful than his. And may our babies, and our babies’ babies, have lives infinitely better than ours.
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