Almost ready (not yet already)
TO THE QUICK - Jerry S. Tundag (The Freeman) - May 1, 2019 - 12:00am

I once coined a term that I used exclusively in The FREEMAN newsroom before I retired from active editorial work. The term was "not yet already" and I meant it to describe a situation that was almost but not quite. In a sense, it is like telling someone inquiring if you are coming to an appointment that you are "on the way" even if you are still just drying up after a shower.

I recall the term now because of the title of a Freeman story that I read online here in Carigara, Leyte. The title of the story went: "Comelec almost ready for midterm polls." I swear I could say amen to that with my "not yet already." The title's "almost ready" and my "not yet already" are almost exactly the same in that they say something without telling anyone anything.

It reminds me as well of President Duterte's speech before his alma mater San Beda's graduating Law class in which he recalls one professor who mumbles everybody's names except for the last syllable, which he screams off shrilly. In Duterte's case it was "te!" But there was a Laurente in class, so when Prof goes "te!" both Duterte and Laurente had to stand up.

The Prof would then point to Laurente and scream shrilly "gaddimit not you 'te!' but you (pointing to Duterte) gaddimit 'te!'" There is sometimes a certain clarity in ambiguity, if you know what I mean. In the case of Comelec, it knew exactly what it was trying to say. And The FREEMAN got it perfectly. Hence the title. And then the story.

The story was of course clearer than the title. It had to be. It had a readership to whom it must explain what the Comelec was saying. If the title was to humor Comelec, the story came down to the brass tacks. It said the preparations of Comelec were almost complete for the May 13 polls.

See the difference? To say "almost ready" is to say nothing because readiness is a situation and therefore has no two ways about it. Either you are ready or you are not. To say preparations are almost complete is an entirely different animal altogether. There is a palpable, even physical, aspect to it that one can put a finger on and account for.

In the story the Comelec said preparations are "90 percent" complete and ticked off some details of its progress. Now, I don't know how Comelec assigned its percentages to what requirements or responsibilities. But at least, when it says things are almost complete, at least you know it is far from being incomplete. And you can laugh without meaning any offense.

One more thing. When I go to a restaurant, I have made up my mind to either dine in or take an order home. It goes without saying. But when the restaurant volunteers the info that my order will take 20 minutes, then "gaddimit te!" I will hold you to your 20 minutes. So when May 13 swings around and Comelec says it is "fully prepared," it better be. Or it will hear from "te!"

jerrytundag@yahoo.com

RODRIGO DUTERTE
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