Wednesday, July 02, 2008

no. 1 in boxing and no. 1 in corruption

It is official. The shout is loud and clear for the world to hear and to know. The Philippines is Number One--twice! It is not only a first placer in the field of boxing but also a top notch in the sphere of corruption. These are not easy titles to get. Both acquire a lot of practice and expertise. Both further demand a quick mind and fast hands. Finally, both mean big bucks--along the line of “the winner takes it all”. But the truth remains that while boxing brings the Filipinos a big pride, corruption appends to the country a great shame.

Boxing is the modern incarnation of the gladiators in the olden times. Gladiators received much health care, built their physics, strength and stamina, practiced swinging their weapons to decidedly defeat their opponents. Boxers do the same. Gladiators went to the arena or the ring to fight one another until only one of them remained standing. Boxers do the same. When gladiators fought, the expectators made bets, shouted, cheered and jeered. It is the same in boxing. The winning gladiator was always honored and celebrated. Winning boxers get the same appreciation and adulation.

Corruption is the term for cheating and stealing, defrauding and usurping, extorting and pilfering--all combined. While formerly the most used words were “kotong” and “patong”, recently other terms came to fore, viz., “bukol” and “tongpats” But no matter the form adopted and whatever the term used, corruption remains commonly understood as the extent public authority is exercised for private gain. No less that the World Bank formally released on 24 June 2008, its grim official finding that corruption in the Philippines stood the worst in the whole East Asia. As some kind of an indication that corruption has already become inculturated and endemic to the present Philippine government, the picture of a big fat fearsome alligator accompanied the published announcement.

The shameful WB release was in fact then accompanied by a shameless event that caused national ire and triggered international mortification. The local anger was occasioned by someone feeling regal, having in tow a big loyal court and pretending to be on a noble mission to a land flowing with milk and honey. There were allegedly so many important personalities to talk with, so many signal agenda to attend to. That was why many prodigal back–and–forth trips were made, and many lavish receptions were given. But the sad and solid truth behind all these supposedly impressive official working visit, had the following common denominators: It was one big long very expensive junket. It was paid in full by the poor people left behind. It was unconscionable all over.

The MalacaƱang apologists while then saying anything and doing everything to defend the doings of their generous benefactor abroad, only knew too well that the travel was indefensible. But the national ire that was generated by the very expensive and very offensive junket, cannot but be understood in the context of the intense and extensive government corruption in the Philippines--a vibrant reality known the world over and wherefore truly mortifying to the country unfortunately visited by the MalacaƱang occupant plus a big entourage.

2 July 2008