The Survival Instinct of the Filipinos

The Survival Instinct of the Filipinos

By Apolinario Villalobos

Survival is a human instinct, but varies according to environment and culture. Some can survive with utmost honesty, some with deception, and still others do with violence. The Filipinos use ingenuity and resourcefulness in order to survive, sometimes even with much tolerance of a wrongdoing – a manifestation of a non-violent character. This tolerance does not mean, however, that the Filipinos are of a cowardly race. By survival, this writer, mean endurance and persistence.

Filipinos have shown that despite the onslaught of disasters, they have recovered, with grace, yet. And, recovery is made with resourcefulness. Though typhoons and floods may have flattened villages and towns, the affected literally pick up pieces of their lives– actually, useful debris that could be pieced together even for a scant roof over their head.

Tin cans become pots for rice to be cooked and water to be boiled for doled out coffee or instant noodles.

In big cities such as Manila, what some perceive as vagabonds are actually Filipinos who survive on the jingling coins in their pockets and junks that can be salvaged from dumps, and sold in recycling centers for their daily subsistence. Those who sell candies and cigarettes in traffic-clogged streets do their best to set aside substantial amount for a pedaled trike (traysikad) that would become a regular source of a bigger income. Some patiently gather vegetable trimmings discarded by vegetable wholesalers, to be cleaned and sold by pile on sidewalks.

The non-violent character of the Filipinos made them tolerate even the blatant ineptness of the government, and instead of raising hands that grip guns, they make do with rallies where effigy- burning, shouts, speeches and songs become their “most violent” expressions. Not even the much ballyhooed “People Power Revolution” that caused the toppling of the Marcos dictatorship saw violent actions from the waves of protesters. Compatriots in military and police uniforms reciprocated by accepting flowers and foods offered to them.

While in the Middle East and Africa there are incidents of suicide bombings, nothing of same sort has ever happened in the country. Long before the spate of kidnapping for ransom in Mindanao rocked the island, particularly Jolo and Basilan, some countries in South America have already been suffering from it. Despite the threats announced by headlines in broadsheets and tabloids about the sure collapse of tourism industry because of the varied turmoil, the Filipinos nonchalantly continue to hope for the better by doing something to arrest the downtrend.

The Philippines is a case of “unity in diversity”. Filipinos who have diversified cultures and religions have managed to maintain a closely-knit society. When the vast Philippine Arena of the Iglesia ni Cristo in Bulacan was inaugurated, the whole country celebrated. During the seasons of Ramadan and Eidl Fitre, Christians are one with Muslim brethren, the former being respectful to the solemnity involved. During Christmas, many Muslim homes also display lanterns and Christmas trees. When the MNLF-Nur Misuari faction devastated Zamboanga City, Christians and Muslims joined hands in condemning his act. In Mindanao, when ragtag bands of rebels would attack a village, Muslims and Christians flee to the same direction for safety.

This unique survival character of the Filipinos is once again put to test in the face of the political and economic unrest that beset the country today. Not a single day is without a tabloid or a broadsheet shouting headlines about corruptions in the government and the weakness of the leadership. The Filipinos turn to the social media to express their ill-feelings. There are pockets of rallies but they are held with utmost restraint. Issues on the volatile economy and impending “chaos” that might result to starvation due to skyrocketing of prices and expected long power interruptions do not deter the steadfast Filipinos who astutely maintain their patience and poise.

The unique survival instinct of the Filipinos may be attributed to their fear of God. Their religiosity is so deeply-rooted in their character that even in the face of any adversity, they are unfazed.

May Kapalit Ang Pagtitiyaga…tungkol ito kay Wilfredo Bautista

May Kapalit Ang Pagtitiyaga…

(tungkol ito kay Wilfredo Bautista)

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

May kasabihan tayong “kapag may tiyaga…may nilaga”

Ganyan ang nangyari sa buhay ni Wilfredo Bautista

Sa Kenram, ang pamilya niya ay unang napatira

Na kalaunan ay napadpad sa New Isabela.

Nasa elementarya pa lang ay matikas na ang pangarap

Maging sundalo, tagapagtanggol ng mga mahihirap

Hindi masisisi dahil sa mga nakitang nagaganap –

Mga karahasang nagpapadilim ng hinaharap.

Sa murang gulang, gabay niya ang nagisnang kahirapan

Lakas na sa kanya ay nagtulak upang pagsumikapan

Na matamo, pangarap na maalwang kinabukasan

Pipilitin niyang makamit sa malinis na paraan.

Nang mag-high school ay nabago ang kanyang minimithi

Maging CPA na katumbas ng kanyang pagpupunyagi

Subali’t sa tulad man niyang mahirap, ‘di ito madali-

Abut- abot pa rin ang kanyang pagbabakasakali.

Nangyari nga ang kaniyang kinabahala, ang agam-agam

Kahi’t noong sila ay nakatira pa sa malayong Kenram

Na sa kahirapan, pangarap niyang kay tagal inasam

Malabong makamit, masakit man sa pakiramdam.

Sa isip natanim ay pagpursigi, at Diyos sa kanya ay gagabay

Mayroon pa naman siyang lakas, lusog, at may buhay

Pupuhunaning tiwala sa sarili’y dagdag na kaagapay

Sa pagtahak ng daan tungo sa hangad na tagumpay.

Ang dalawang taon sa kolehiyong inabot ng pagsisikap niya

Ay malaking bagay na, basta sa sarili’y mayroong tiwala

Sa paghanap ng kapalara’y narating niya ang Maynila

Kaya pati mga dasal ay sinamahan na rin ng pag-asa.

Masalimuot ang buhay sa Maynila, nakakagupo ng mahihina

Subali’t wala iyan kay Wilfredo…taga-Tacurong yata siya!

Hindi niya kinalimutang sa bayang pinanggalingan niya

Walang mahinang loob, lahat matatapang, isa na siya!

Naging welder, trabahong pinasok ay lakas-loob ang puhunan

Mabuti na ito, sabi sa sarili, kesa magpalaboy sa lansangan

Tama din ang desisyon dahil sa naipon niyang karanasan

Nagkaroon siya ng tsansang makapagpangibang-bayan.

Siya’y nakarating sa Middle East, pangarap ng mga kababayan

Pagka-welder na kakayahan ang bitbit niya at isinangkalan

Mga amo naman ay napabilib niya sa kanyang kakayahan

Kaya naging supervisor agad ang pwesto, hindi kalaunan!

Ngayon, maayos na buhay ang tinatamasa sa piling ng pamilya

Kalagayan nila’y payak, ‘di maluhong buhay ang tinatamasa

Nguni’t pagmamahal naman ay umaapaw sa tahanan nila

Kaya sa Panginoon, si Wilfredo’y wala nang mahihiling pa.

(Nagtapos si Wilfredo sa NDT Boys’ at napangasawa niya si

Fely Casama na nagtapos naman sa NDT Girls’. Nabiyayaan

sila ng dalawang supling – isang lalaki at isang babae.)

Phil-Am Relationship as the Most Volatile And Sensitive Issue to Blog About

Phil-Am Relationship as the Most Volatile

And Sensitive Issue to Blog About

By Apolinario Villalobos

I have always been careful when blogging about politics, more so with Philippine-American relationship, but still take the risk by going to the extent of coming out with hard-hitting views against local politicians, and sometimes the United States. The Philippine politics is just a small fleck compared to the global politics that involve superpowers, like the United States. In most cases, third world countries like the Philippines, become pawns when these superpowers discuss matters for their own benefits and advantage. And, in this global political play, many things are involved, some are even unbelievably happening. Manipulation of the weak by the strong becomes the norm.

On the other hand, the issues between the Philippines and the United States as regards mistrust, betrayal, etc. are deeply- rooted, so sensitive that most writers stay away from them, unless they are ready with hard proofs to prove their allegations. In Manila, all we see during rallies of leftist groups are anti-American slogans and even US flag-burning rituals, enhanced by chants about being a US “puppet” of whoever is the current president of the country. This scenario did not change since the time of the early presidents. Even the supposedly spirit behind the “People Power Revolution”, Cory Aquino, was not spared. There are so many underlying reasons for these that require thorough presentation before they can be understood and appreciated. Of late, noticeable are the absence of most of the principal participants of the first People Power Revolution during its subsequent commemorations. There are big reasons why they are suddenly distancing themselves away from the supposedly historic event. And, they are about politics that dwell on the Philippine-American relationship.

Basically, the Philippine system of governance was born out of the American ideology. Unfortunately, not even the several changes that the Philippine Constitution underwent, have successfully transformed it into one that centers on a “pure” Filipino ideology, based on the people’s cultural diversity and economic needs. Even the latest ratifications during the time of Cory Aquino, contained biased provisions that are still tainted with American influence. This is the reason why there is a general feeling of ambivalence among the Filipinos today, on the move to ratify the Constitution drastically, to make it a truly Filipino Basic Law. For, how can that be possible with general apprehensions in the light of the corrupt image of the administration and the two law making bodies? Mistrust and perceived betrayals are again the reasons.

In addition to the aforementioned reality, the economically and militarily frail country is faced with threats from different sectors. This weakness, though not expressed out of pride, could be the reason why the government entered into the Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States which in the eyes of many is biased in favor of the latter, especially, on the aspect of custody of erring members of the US contingent while on Philippine shore. Specifically, for the US to hold in custody their soldiers who committed a crime in the Philippines, though hearings are conducted in the Philippines, is for many Filipinos “foul”. The Jeffrey Laude murder has emphasized this supposedly “biased” provision, a replayed situation, since the early Nicole rape case.

The current Agreement is the second for the same purpose – joint exercises on the shores of the Philippines. The question is why did the government hastily finalize the agreement without considering the lesson from the Nicole rape case? Was there an oversight?…or was it done deliberately? If only those who represented the Philippine government observed utmost care and sensitivity to the general sentiment of the Filipinos, there could have been no problem on the issue of custody. Also, had there been more care on the part of the local government of Olongapo in giving appropriate caution to the locals who view the “liberty” or “rest and recreation” binges of the Americans after the joint exercises, as a source of revenue, finger-pointing may have been avoided. As reported by field radio reporters from Olongapo, the city is divided in their feelings toward the Laude case. Those who are earning honestly from the American soldiers on “liberty” or leisure are blaming those who use questionable ploys to earn.

Jeffrey Laude was suspected as a sex worker who initially went into bargaining for his/her service as mentioned even by a friend, before going with the suspected American soldier to the motel. And, yet, he/she is supposed to be scheduled for marriage to his/her German fiancé. During later interviews, another friend of Laude denied the sex worker issue. In the first place, Laude was not supposed to be hanging out in such kind of joint, if he was fair to his/her German fiancé. So who committed fault here?

The latest issue on the Visiting Forces Agreement, muddled by the Laude case has just added more lesions to the already stinking issue about Philippine-American relationship. Ironically, as I have mentioned many times in earlier shared views, the purported nationalistic Filipinos who cry anti-American slogans are themselves, dreaming of holding on to a passport stamped with a US visa. And, where was the Commission on Human Rights on the day when the Laude case exploded? Did the CHR people come out in place of the President who has no habit of going to wakes of people he does not know? Is the act of the CHR, another belated cover-up, which is the tendency of the present administration?

I personally perceive the Visiting Forces Agreement as a ploy to show some borrowed muscles to the Chinese who keeps on advancing on the western maritime front of the country. It is unethical for the President to express this. As regards the issue on custody, how can the US allow its citizen to stay in a stinking Philippine jail some of which are pitifully filled to the rafters? The Philippine government extends assistance to its citizens that have figured in drug activities in other countries, even go to the extent of appealing for the calling off of a death sentence. So how can the US be blamed for protecting its citizen, too, and who still has to undergo trial, yet, on a foreign shore? Also, there is another question on the fickle justice system of the Philippines. So how can the US government leave its citizen at the mercy of such system, by letting him languish in a stinking jail for a case that may take years to be resolved?

Finally, Atty. Harry Roque should know better than instigate his client, the Laude family into loudly protesting the supposedly injustice committed on their member, Jeffrey, by the suspected American soldier. The mother and the sister of Jeffrey even went into dramatics by insisting that they just want to ask the suspect why he committed the crime. What if the American will tell them that Jeffrey did not honor the agreed cost of service by asking for more after their act, or that Jeffrey tried to steal something from him? Will Jeffrey’s mother and sister accept the allegations calmly? Nobody in his right mind will commit such crime without any reason at all. The question on the gender of Jeffrey is out, as the sexual act was supposedly concluded which implied acceptance on the part of the suspect.

On the other hand, as a lawyer, Atty. Roque should show restraint for the sake of reason and fair justice. No amount of shouts can put the suspect in jail, this early. Trial has not yet even started, but, Atty. Roque acts as if verdict has already been handed down in favor of the suspect.

I am not taking sides. I am just amplifying realities already presented by the different media for fair information of the public. If ever conclusions have been drawn by viewers, I would like to presume that these are their personal opinions that should be respected. Sensitive issues should be perceived with open mind so that due and diligent scrutiny can be made. There are so many factors that must be considered, aside from the immediate ones that surround them. Some may not even be visible unless patiently researched. They are deeply-rooted and cling to other issues that involve security and economy of countries concerned. Most importantly, we should not resort to finger-pointing.

Paglalakbay sa Laot ng Buhay

Paglalakbay sa Laot ng Buhay

(para kay Zenaida Paragas-Sanque)

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Ang kapalarang nakaguhit sa palad ng tao

Ay nagbabadya ng buhay na makakamtan

Sa unang sandali pa lamang na paglanghap-

Ng hanging sa mga mata niya’y nagpakurap.

Sa sinapupunan pa mang puno na ng tubig

Kung saan siya ay nagkapintig, nagkabuhay

Ang kapalaran niya’y unti-unti nang nauukit-

Itinakdang sa kanya, habang buhay nakadikit.

Sa ibabaw ng mundo, merong laot ng buhay

Nilalaklakbay ng tao tungo sa guhit- tagpuan

Hindi madali ang paglayag, maraming banta-

Subali’t sa mga matatapang, ito’y ’di alintana!

Ganyan ang nangyari sa isang tulad ni Zenaida

Na sa mga balikat ay napaatang ang pagkandili

At pananagutan sa mga kapatid na nakababata

Nang namaalam sa kanila ang mahal nilang ina.

Laman ng isip ay kapakanan ng mga nakababata

Kaya ang sarili niya’y halos ‘di mabigyan- pansin

Abut-abot na pagtiis ay halos gumupo sa kanya-

Akala niya ay ganoon na ngang kanyang tadhana.

Ang Diyos ay mabait, palagi iyang napapatunayan

Sa taong matiyaga’t loob ay buo sa mga pagsubok

Kaya sa tulad ni Zenaida na taas-noong pumalaot

Lahat ng pagtiyaga’t pagtiis niya, ginhawa’y dulot!

(Zeny is married to Romulo Sanque, a consistent

honor student during high school days at NDTC Boys’, till

finally graduating on top of his class.)