Stop the Hate!
BLEACHERS TALK - Rico S. Navarro (The Freeman) - April 5, 2020 - 12:00am

Aren’t wars supposed to bring out the best in us as a united country?

Every time our “Pambansang Kamao” Manny Pacquiao climbs up that boxing ring, the country practically goes on a lockdown just to watch him fight. Every time Gilas Pilipinas played in the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers and later the FIBA World Cup, the country cheered from their homes and fans trooped to the Mall of Asia Arena or Philippine Arena to yell out “Puso!” each time they heard the lead cheer of “Laban Pilipinas!” When the men’s national volleyball team bagged the silver at the Southeast Asian Games, it was like winning the gold with the whole nation behind them. And when the women’s national basketball team won the SEAG gold for the first time in history, fans and supporters were so happy for them as they stepped out of the shadows of the men’s basketball side. All these had one dominant trait in common. To borrow from the SEAG slogan, “We Win As One,” and true enough, the Philippines won as one. It was a proud moment for the country, one that glued a country as one, regardless of his political color, ideology or bias.

Today? The country finds itself at war. Up against COVID-19, a mysterious, unknown and silently “loud” virus that has gained ground, how is our country performing? Are we united in this war as we were in Pacquiao’s biggest fights? Are we united in yelling “Laban Pilipinas, Puso!”; Then adding something like “Kaya natin ‘to! / Kaya ni nato!” I’m confident that you all have the same answer. Just one look at social media says it all. Instead of being a venue for calls for prayer, unity and support, Facebook has turned into a battleground of people for and against everybody and just about anybody: leaders, non-leaders, neighbors and people they don’t even know. Posts, comments, fake news; more posts, more comments, more fake news; all of them seething with dislike and hate. That’s my main beef with social media. So many so-called experts are so brave to attack, criticize or even post fake news, hiding behind a wall of their personal computer, gadget or cellphone. It’s really sad that while there are many posts of encouragement, love and support, there seem to be more messages of hate and quarrel. These trolls and “experts” are aplenty on both sides with no consideration that what they’re doing is more harmful and not helping in the country’s fight against COVID-19. How I wish Facebook had “Nega-meter” that can delete all of this real-time and on the spot.

Can’t we level up, scan the scene go above all this? This is a war and not a political circus. The more divided the country acts, the more it will go down in defeat. We need to act as one team amidst this unprecedented pandemic. I pray that we all realize that what we are doing is creating more harm than good. I pray for a ceasefire on all social media messages that produce more hate than unity. I beg everyone. If we don’t have anything nice to say about someone or something, stay silent, say a prayer instead for him, her or whatever we don’t like. Pray the rosary, Oratio Imperata or attend the TV masses online or on CCTN.

This bleacher bum has lived through earthquakes, typhoons, volcano eruptions and various administrations from Marcos to Digong, and has realized that it’s useless to take a side in this kind of things. It’s stressful, unhealthy and brings bad vibes. At the end of it all, one discovers that the joke is on us ordinary people, and we end up victims of the situation. Regardless of who stays in Malacañang, life will go on as long as we do our part. Didn’t we all survive through the Marcos times? Didn’t we come out fine post-Marcos, coup d’etats, the ouster of Erap and all on until today?

One thing is clear. The side that we should to take and fight for in this battle should be that of our beloved Philippines. I don’t think that’s too hard to comprehend, is it? Let’s pray for the healing of those diagnosed with COVID-19. Let’s pray for the souls of all those who passed away due to the coronavirus. Let’s pray for those gallant front-liners who are giving their lives for others. Let’s pray for the finding of a cure and vaccine for the virus. Let us pray for the quick stop to this pandemic. God bless the Philippines; the world. Have mercy on us.

Laban Pilipinas, Puso!

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