Out of Focus: Bahay Lansangan
3:15 AM | Author: Conrado Abrugar Macapulay Jr.

The Jedi Encounter
2:35 AM | Author: Conrado Abrugar Macapulay Jr.


6:00 a.m. I woke up in the sound of screeching doors. My sister usually leaves the house at this hour. Staggered after being reminded of the time, I almost fell out of the couch. I remember I was watching the late night news. The Jedi* and the students of different universities were making headlines. The President, trying her all to thwart off any destabilization plans on her government, simply said that repeating an activity all too familiar 22 years back will just earn the mockery of the world. The Jedi retaliated, saying that people should not tire of it. The next dialogues made me sick they brought me to the thick blanket of oblivion.
6:10 a.m. After a ten-minute soliloquy, I rushed to the C.R., took a 15-minute shower, got dressed in a mocha shirt with “When nobody hears you, shout! Let Your VOICE be heard.” print, and squeeze my all so that I would not miss the chance of meeting the Jedi.
10:00 a.m. La Salle Greenhills is a big school; we approached the guard with a panting breath. The guard, through his lips, point in the right direction to the conference room. We are approached by one of the organizers and a man in red shirt, who gave me the first question of the day. “What’s in your bag,” he asked. I giggled, adding that there are only two things inside a writer’s bag – a pen and lots of papers.
10:05 a.m. Entering the air-conditioned room, I was welcomed by the Jedi writing symbols in what I understood to be flowcharts.
The next minute is hard for me. In my attempt to capture the most striking quotes which will never be read in national papers, I can’t help but to compare myself to a medical transcriptionist, sweating for jotting words like “I am guided with right mindset and right attitude…” when suddenly the Jedi points at me, asking me a definition for responsibility. Dumbfounded, I said responsibility is conviction…without hesitation of the consequences (or shall I say towards a life, we can never regret). The Jedi asked my school, and I answered politely. “Responsibility is response-ability, the ability to response,” he continued. O.K. Forget about my answer.
When the Jedi emphasized he was not in the group calling for the President’s ouster, a deep silence ensued. Then questions from fellow campus writers came flooding in. One asked his reaction about a movie telling his life story. “I don’t think my life is interesting to be viewed as a movie” he said. I did not remember the other questions, but I heard him answering like “Trust and respect can never be applied, it was learned”; “Huwag kumilos dahil gugulo lang is an arrogant mindset, sinong ipapalit natin is an insulting mindset,”; “Election isn’t democracy”; “People Power is one of the greatest moment of Filipino people; don’t be tired of it, be tired of those who squandered it,”; “Huwag gamitin para sa sariling kapakanan ang ganansya ng People Power.” When someone raised question which asked if the president is evil, he said he wants to refrain commenting about her. I was bombarded with a myriad of undirected statements. I sighed.
11:45 a.m. “Majority of our readers are engineering students, any advice to the future engineers if ever they would be in the same shoes as you are?” I asked. He smiled. I never noted his contentions but I understand it was all about imbibing values in the practice. I admit I was never satisfied with the answer. Or was it just my question? No time. He ended up by saying “There are still lots of goodness in the Philippines…Marami pang Pilipino ang may likas na pagmamahal sa bayan.” Everybody drew near the Jedi, and suddenly the world was peppered with camera flash. The scene was inviting. In an instant, I saw myself beside the Jedi. Camera flash; and with his words etched in my spirit, I feel the freedom to go.
* ZTE NBN Scandal star witness Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada Jr.
Too many parallels
2:30 AM | Author: Conrado Abrugar Macapulay Jr.
So here I was riding a JPEPA* bus on what used to be a typical morning routine (battling a 2-hour trip from Bulacan to Manila) when a word suddenly hit me after my face crashed to an old notebook which I was browsing when the bus decelerated. The word is parallel.
That’s very dramatic for a start. Anyway, this column will revolve on the word.
Parallel – lines that do not intersect, forces that do not meet, of equal footing, of the same condition. Parallel describes the strange resemblances between Pakistan and Philippines.
The Pakistan leader seized power by using real bullet while the Philippine leader, deemed for calling the election commissioner at the heights of election, was accused of seizing power by fake ballots. And as Conrado de Quiros said: “Power seized by (fake) ballot is much a coup as power seized by (real) bullet.”
The Pakistani Islamic leaders and the Philippine Priests and Bishops are both calling for their government leader’s ouster. Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and PGMA are both women leaders whose regime was tainted by their husbands’ scandalous government stance.
Bhutto and Erap both opposed the existing administration, both stained with corruption, the former was exiled while the latter was jailed, however both are pardoned in order to save their leaders shaky presidency.
***
Another set of parallels:
GMA, in order to maintain her grip for presidency, thwarted off the plans of those her government tagged as “extremist”. Human Security Act is the tool. The National Press Club (NPC), in order to maintain an apolitical image, dictated what the Neo Angono artists should have painted, but the latter did not. And calling an unknown artist late at night to do the editing is the tool.
A culture of impunity is alive, everywhere.
***
The Neo Angono artist should have obeyed and let the NPC do the alterations on their work since they are paid P900, 000. The campus journalists should do the same since they are studying for free.
***
Semestral break means another time for me to renew my papers as a scholar in our municipality. And as years passed, I have observed that more students are applying for the scholarship (even the “posh” will not hesitate to fall in line in a hope for a scholarship slot). But what disturbed me is the disheartening picture of many students who almost cry in front of the selection officers yet they failed for the chance to free education.
The commercial in the television showing a British and Japanese attesting for the country’s economic progress is worth earning the ire, not only to the masses who actually feel the reality, but also the intellectuals who knew the rudiments of progress.
Now, think of the thousands of out of school youths whose future stolen by unbridled corruption, think of the many scholarship applicants who succumbed to rejection for free education, think of a 12-year old girl who ended her life due to extreme poverty and hunger. Can you still utter that “Ramdam na ramdam na!” catchphrase?
***
So here I was riding a JPEPA* bus again, now standing with hordes of people trying to evade the hassles of rainfall. The bus suddenly decelerated. The student in my front was searching for the penny which he lost when the bus lose pace that caused the “posh” in front of him to scream: “Aray! Magkano ba yan? Bigay ko na lang.” The student stopped searching for it. The posh drew near me. When I looked down, I saw the penny. My bag slammed in the face of the posh as I reached for the penny. I gave it to the student, and I never apologized to the posh.

* JPEPA stands for the Japanese-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement.. Under Article 29 of this arrangement, wastes (of Japan) are entitled to preferential treatment and are given 0% tariff rate. Now, wonder why Japanese letters are prevalent in the walls of the buses that travel the metro? Don’t think hard. You’re riding in a Japanese shit.
Transparency 101, Debut Column
2:19 AM | Author: Conrado Abrugar Macapulay Jr.
To assume a facile dissemination of information in a country where right to information and freedom of speech is uphold in its people’s Magna Carta is impossible. For one, information secrecy is very much essential especially when the reputation and credibility of the involved is at stake, not to mention the interests behind that is needed to be preserved.
However, this concealment of information appears to be the cause of all the perturbing dilemmas of this nation. This has spurred the endless battle between the people and the leader, the left and the right, the cynical and the affable, the opposition and the administration, and the reds versus their government.

When military authorities classify their plans as secret, it gives positive and negative results. Positive for they have to invoke their role to maintain national security. On the other hand, this might lead into corruption and military dictatorship.

A person is a social animal, and as a social animal, he is always thirsty of the information that suffices his concerns. It is evident enough that people, once deprive of information, will eventually start to assume things, put implications on this and start spreading half-truths (this is a usual scenario in a neighborhood). Rumormongers were born.

In a larger context, what seems to be the roots of the vigilance of many Filipinos today is information secrecy or lack of transparency. A lesson in my Constitution subject reminds me that transparency is one important element of good governance.
“Transparency implies openness, communication and accountability.”
Countless tales of graft and corruption arising from not practicing transparency is a known fact. People are throwing an eye for every leader and once a malady in his governance is sense, they will easily plunged to the thought that the leader might have used the funds illegally. Considering this, we can see that as years passed by, Filipinos are becoming extremely cynical and subversive. As long as transparency is out in our system, this public cynicism will never be put into its end.

The episode in GMA 7 program Imbestigador about the over-pricing of materials for some government projects earned my ire. However, I cannot blame them, for our government system offers a corruption-friendly environment for these culprits to enjoy the public funds. Many of the government transactions, like public bidding, were put in oblivion (or they really intend to) and the measures taken by the Sandiganbayan to dislodge public officials and employees guilty of illegal use of public funds is very feeble.
I therefore propose that transparency be a standard operating procedure (SOP) in any government transactions. I never heard of any law that pushes all government undertakings to be open to the press and the public and allows anyone to review budgets and financial statement.

That is why I am very much excited to hear about it during the Isang Tanong, Isang Sagot program of the GMA 7 during the election period. I told myself that the senatoriable who advocate for transparency will win a seat in my checklist.
I look for the term in the speech of Chiz Escudero, Allan Peter Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Manny Villar and others but I failed. Until the last portion of the program I am waiting for someone to mention the word but all I can hear is “Fight corruption”, none of them knew about the solution.
I failed. They failed me.

The need for transparency should not only be addressed to our government officials. This must be integrated to every office, where there is a leader, where there is governed. The cause of distrust of an employee to his superior is the inability of the latter to provide an open and interactive working environment to the former. When the employee starts to sense something wrong in the office, he will be very quick to tagged his superior as the perpetrator behind the problem. This cripples an office towards its maximum potential.
“Where there is transparency, there is trust.”


Anyway, Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, noted that “transparency is practiced when 1) laws, rules and decisions are open to discussion. 2) financial disclosure statement were shown and published. 3) freedom of information legislation exists.

On the other hand transparency plays an important role in every human relationship and society. A couple’s break-up is usually brought by lack of transparency between the two of them. In showbiz, artists are likely to be maligned or sentenced without their knowledge because they keep on evading answering questions that concerns them. The war between the reds and the government is caused by the lack of the latter to initiate dialogues. Civil war between the progressive groups and the administration is deepen because of the latter’s failure to provide convictions to extrajudicial killings.
To sum up, information secrecy causes dispute in this country.
Email the editor at conrado_macapulay@yahoo.com