In this otherwise beautiful country with its wonderful people, the maxim that recently became a national favorite is “Moderate their greed”—a futile advisory to certain key officials in government known for their untrammeled avarice and rapacity. Their fundamental concern is how to fill their many big and deep pockets—their banks accounts here and there. Money is the god they worship. Honesty and integrity just as truth and justice are definitely not in their dictionary, much less in their conscience. When they die—and surely they will somehow sometime—their tombstone can very well have the following epitaph: Here lies someone rich and famous but dead and stiff.” Their avarice and greed make a total stop when their coffins arrive.
During these ominous days in the country, there can be another timely injunction this pitiful administration would surely want people to be told: “Moderate their hunger.” Begin with everyone eating but “half rice”. Then eat much corn mixed with a little rice. Lately, they have their bread mixed with camote and calabasa. Incidentally, all these bad news are specially directed to the poor and destitute, the manual laborers and contractual workers in the country. This is the stark and disturbing reality: There is no affordable rice precisely for those who already have much less in life. Many of them are no longer eating thrice a day. Now, they have to eat even less, the little money they have even buy lesser food. The times are bad and cruel.
These days are reminiscent of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Those were the years when people were unceremoniously killed or became victims of forced disappearances. Dead and even mutilated bodies were then found here and there. Human dignity was trampled upon. Human rights were irrelevant. Guns reigned and dissent was outlawed. Families were separated. Women were violated. Children were made to beg. “Mickey Mouse” money was legal tender. Garbage was precious. Food was scare. And there was no rice!
Lo and behold—all the above social maladies that gripped the country more than five decades ago now sound rather familiar. The evil then that ruled this nation is once again governing the people. The Filipinos are again poor and destitute, once more oppressed and depressed, again wanting and hungry. While the peso is said to have appreciated very much, it however buys much less. People are again wearing shabby clothes, living in shanties and endlessly looking for rice—for cheap rice wherever and whenever this could be found. Many and long “pila” for rice is once more the norm of the day. Never mind the sweat and tears provided they find rice.
The people are bombarded by glorious rhetoric and rosy economic gains. Official developmental statistical reports are infallibly marvelous and impressive. People were amply provided with super-visions and promised super-regions. But where is the rice?
Something must be wrong—very wrong. Someone must be lying—much and often. Somewhere should be the solution. Somehow there must be an end to this living passion of the people.
23 April 2008