The renovation of our lives

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

At some point, renovations become necessary.

After 20 years, my wife and I have slowly been doing renovations on our small house that has served us well through the years. When we hit the 20-year mark, the first thing we had to change was the polycarbonate roof that had become crispy and crackly during summer and a part-time sprinkler during the rainy season. We replaced the industrial roof with a straight-forward concrete roof and, against all odds, I managed to get the job done with a 3-man crew, albeit longer than I wanted it to take.

After that I decided to revitalize my “Mini Ocean Park” composed of an 8,000-gallon pond tank, a couple of 4,000s and a 2,000. They’re all plus or minus capacities because it was a D.I.Y thing based on the cut and space of our small property. Yes, believe it or not, we only have a 131-square meter property and when you can’t go wide your options are to go deep or go high. We did both and threw in all our creative juices to these.

As I write this piece I am still recovering from exhaustion from the heat and the series of challenges brought on as my wife Karen and I renovated our bedroom. It was supposed to be a simple refresh job of paint and rearranging the furniture but a busted water pipe, a 25-year old aircon, an even older bed and rusty screen doors, buckling wood floor panels and much needed lighting presented themselves like patients at the Emergency Room requiring attention. If you’ve ever watched one of those renovation shows, you know that the budget flies out the window on week one. Our problem was we didn’t have one. What made it all tolerable was the fact that we never had to spend a lot on repairs in the last 20 years until now and like perfect timing, my 20-year-old office chair that I also used on TV has indicated that it will soon be up for retirement.

After a whole month of doing this, we’ve decided to just carry on loving our house, fixing, replacing, upgrading whatever has to be done. Being in our slower and more deliberate years, we realize that we’re fortunate to have the strength, mobility and experience to undertake such projects and for us there is nothing more satisfying that doing home restorations or renovations. That is one activity and challenge that my wife and I have passionately shared and it all came about from the fact that our very limited income from the beginning, has forced us to stay in ”formerly beautiful” rental residences. Many of the houses we rented in the past were properties that investors bought or inherited and the new owners had no immediate plans to rebuild, etc. So we ended up in dilapidated houses or hot boxes that we rented low but fixed up. By God’s grace it turned out to be our “in-house” training for when we would end up in Palawan building a resort.

As I was sharing, yes we are in the middle of a serious D.I.Y. house renovation but, at the same time, I think that I as well as many of you out there are probably going through another type of renovation after going through the last election. If anything, the last election has made me realize that there are so many things that no longer work in the country, in Philippine society, as well as in the way we think, feel or imagine the country to be. We have all been going on auto pilot until the last election forced us to reconsider our values, aspirations, etc.

Whether your candidate won or lost, there is no denying that the last election brought out the best and the worst in Filipinos and the Philippines. Those who consistently voted in past elections swore never to vote again, Trapos who consistently won in every election but now found themselves dethroned or almost losing labeled their voters as disloyal, money hungry ingrates, some have looked into immigrating to another country just to get away from the madness, and others have thrown in the towel of ever educating and elevating Filipinos to intelligent and responsible voters. I’m just skimming on the surface here because some of the F words and curses I heard hurled from all sides also shook me to the core.

Yes, our house of cards is in shambles. Our Constitution is frail, impaired and has become the very tool that propagates mediocrity in leadership and governance. The very populist provision that anyone can run for public office is a farce. Our laws and the so-called luminaries who give interpretation to them are no better and mostly of no help.

Every election, the Commission on Elections impales itself on its incompetence to properly conduct elections and its inaction against corruption and vote buying that even the blind know of every time they feel a one thousand-peso bill pressed on their palm. Survey firms struggle and fight to project their competence and integrity in every campaign. Why? You either are, or you are not. Interestingly, certain senatorial candidates who were in the top 12 never made the list and now those who made it are fodder for speculation and accusation.

Closer to home, it shocked me how humble, calm, God-fearing individuals I knew suddenly grizzled with almost fanatical behavior with their keyboards campaigning for questionable candidates at both local and national levels. Ultimately, we all got sucked into it, myself included. It seemed like the only way to fight fire was with fire because the other party just would not stop.

Clearly, our “house of cards” has serious structural, moral, institutional and spiritual damage. The extent is not something that will be covered by a fresh coat of paint or a change of management or owners. We either renovate or demolish.

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E-mail: [email protected]


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