Messiah complex
SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto P. Maceda Jr. (The Philippine Star) - February 2, 2019 - 12:00am

Campaign periods, a.k.a. the silly season, are consistently anathema to the aphorism “ignorance is bliss.” Whether or not we are interested to know, we are barraged with slick propaganda from anxious candidates claiming authorship of everything good and perfect. In the US, we recall that Vice President Al Gore Jr. became a joke after his shabbily crafted, self centered response to a Wolf Blitzer campaign question on why Democrats should support him instead of Sen. Bill Bradley. Part of Gore’s answer was the line “I took the initiative in creating the internet.” He meant that, as a Senator, it was his bill that facilitated funding for research that eventually produced the internet as we know it. Unfortunately for him, this statement morphed into the infamous claim that he “invented the internet.” And the rest is punch line history. 

We see the same iteration, locally, in each election as candidates trip over themselves for bragging rights over important social legislation. And it sells, specially for gut issue laws that impact on the day to day. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile rode on his role in lowering power rates as well as on his investigation of high telco charges to cement his last two Senate wins. Identification with initiatives that, though salutary in the long run, may result in burdens on the populace in the short term, have also proved fatal. Sen. Ralph Recto was once a victim of the backlash on the VAT which he sponsored.

This year’s palo-sebo is the Free Tertiary Education Act. Senators Bam Aquino and Sonny Angara, Rep. Karlo Nograles, among others, are all riding on the issue. You’d think that they had somehow transformed into local philanthropists, distributing their combined allotments from the National budget into a fund to send 1.4 million students to college for free. 

Seasonal farce. The beneficiaries of the program should really be thanking no one but their parents whose taxes make these free public services possible. But we will continue to be exposed to the media marketing tossed out there like “hail mary passes,” candidates hoping to net as many responses as they can get. Its as if we are challenged to temporarily set aside our capacity to discern and just buy what they are selling, blindly. 

The sad part is that we continue to buy. Maybe all this debate on age of discernment should really be going the opposite direction. 

The day the music died. Joey “Pepe” Smith, 71. Drummer, guitarist and vocalist for the Juan de la Cruz band. One of the pioneers of Pinoy rock but he was an icon for more than that. Just by being his own, original and unfettered self, he was claimed by every Filipino – even by those unfamiliar with his music – ang himig natin, balong malalim, titsers enemy No. 1, among others – as a Pinoy rock god. 

James Ingram, 66. American R&B giant whose soulful music fueled many a romance worldwide. Ingram was a Filipino favorite – his songs figuring prominently in local playlists and karaoke gatherings: just once, how do you keep the music playing (with Patti Austin), somewhere out there (with Linda Ronstadt), among others. 

Henry Van Dyke wrote “If all the world were music, our hearts would often long for one sweet strain of silence, to break the endless song.” But to never hear them again would be a mournful silence. May they rest in peace.

Guess who came to dinner? The Universidad de Manila (UDM) had a rare sighting of one of the music industry’s brightest and most beloved stars. Mr. Pure Energy himself, Gary Valenciano, descended upon our humble university to join a number of our blessed and bewildered graduating students for a chat. 

The visit was part of Gary V’s avowed intent to visit universities, to give back and connect with his audience, specially the youth, on a more personal level. The idol endured highly publicized health concerns last year. These developments and the other battles and challenges of his life were the fodder for his sharing with the UDM students. 

Well, he could not have captured a more grateful, appreciative audience with whom his story clearly resonated. Among the universities, it is in locally established Higher Education Institutions that you find the most appreciative beneficiaries of efforts to give back. Struggle, challenge, adversity is a daily reality of students in public high schools and colleges. I myself was witness to how the superstar, in giving of himself, was able to take away much more from the students’ own sharing and their empathy for what he experienced. 

We have come to be accustomed to seeing stars go down to our level only when they flame out and crash to the earth. Often, it’s a painful case of shattered illusion; of feet of clay. But this supernova came down on his own accord. Doing so, he lifted our kids on his shoulders, elevating them with him up among the stars. UDM and the universities he will bless will continue to admire Gary V. the Star. But we will hold dear Gary V. the person and the time well spent connecting as friends. 

Tidbits. The Manila Bay clean up effort has left a smile on our collective faces. The volunteer efforts have come through, big time. But lets not forget that we aren’t seeing so much of the jetsam and flotsam these days also because of the Amihan winds blowing them out toward the sea. Keep vigilant, specially when Habagat induced tides return the trash, like MacArthur, toward the temporarily pristine bay water.

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