Thursday, March 27, 2008


(i wrote this piece over a year ago for what would have been my own column in a new men's magazine. then something happened to the editorial set-up, and the next thing i knew, this piece was orphaned. But it eventually got published in a Manila Jaycees space somewhere, along with a corresponding post on the Manila Jaycess website. But since I want this thing in my own space, here it is along with the photo that it was originally meant to be published with.)

* ** ** ** *

By Golangco, Jasper Lao

‘So, any plans of leaving the country?’

This question seems to prop up more and more nowadays. And it usually ignites a rather lively discussion about the pros and cons of leaving, and of living here. I must admit, I have entertained the thought more than once. But hey, I’m still here and loving it…sort of.

You see, this place has got a whole lot going for it. Can’t miss them beautiful beaches, certainly can’t miss them gorgeous women, my bulging gut is evidence of the affordable, yet sumptuous food, and unless I really want to on weekends, I don’t even have to clean my own car. (admit it, it’s not that guilty a pleasure, dude…) Add those to the fact that my folks and family are here, so that means that should all hell break loose, there will always be a roof over my head and food on someone’s table for me to gorge on. Of course I can’t speak for everybody. Nonetheless…

So why leave? Well, there are a lot of things going for THAT, too…

See, it gets mighty depressing when you drive around town through traffic in a sea of Japanese compacts and vans, luxury SUV’s suddenly slice through the muck with police escorts, blaring sirens and all, and more often than not, a government official is in there. Where do you think they got the money for those vehicles? And who’s paying for those uniformed escorts? My taxes are apparently at work here, but obviously not for me. Sure, there are people who love the government, but only if they work in it.

And who needs reality TV shows, when you’ve got local Philippine news? It’s got more staged drama than American Idol, ickier stunts than Fear Factor, and more duplicity than Donald Trump’s the Apprentice. What makes this an absolute tragedy is that the stars are our very own politicians. I would’ve used the synonym “law-makers”, but then it doesn’t really seem that they work on any laws any ways. Come to think of it, they don’t even do politics too well.

The elections are over, all the promises have been made, and it merely remains to be seen as to which ones will be kept. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, while I drive through the city watching our tax money being used to clean up the Cheshire grins plastered on practically every available wall they can find. Sometimes I think that maybe we shouldn’t clean those posters up. So the winning candidates can see their own faces staring back at them and they’ll remember everything they said while begging for votes. It’s funny that after how much thought went into which colors they want to use and the poses they make for their glam photos, they all end up looking and sounding alike to me.

I love this country. My country. But sadly, the country’s love for me is represented by the people running its government. And so far, I don’t feel it. And while we love our people, and value our culture, the powers that be echo such claims without practicing any of it. We’ve heard the same promises over and over from practically the same people, and every other time, they’re either broken or forgotten. Pork barrel, anyone?

It’s tempting to think that if or when we go abroad, things will get better for us and our families. Maybe yes, maybe no. But while we’re here, our collective butts are parked and warm, and we haven’t been poked off to our nearest travel agency, a little optimism wouldn’t hurt. Of course, it’s almost funny how the government points towards the OFW’s as the so-called heroes of our economy, when the very fact that they’re someplace else is a sign of the hopelessness they feel towards home. But home is where family is, and where family is, there should always be hope.

Back when I was a kid, having parents and/or relatives working abroad usually meant that times were hard here and flying off was the only option left for the family’s survival back here. While that wasn’t the rule, it was certainly the most common conception. Nowadays, there are more of them. The need to find a good life and livelihood elsewhere has climbed up the social food chain. Either that, or the bottom rung just got way bigger. If I choose to disregard whatever financial foundations my family has set up over a couple of generations, I would definitely belong in this self-same bottom rung. Having said that, I might consider flying off and finding my fortunes elsewhere. Thank heavens for family.

But how many people have the luxury of having a family to lean on? Probably quite a few still, but getting fewer over time. Every election is a new beginning, and every time we hope it’s a good one. At least good enough to not send more people flying outta here.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep working my ass off, do my best to keep my promises, enjoy the live show known as late-night news, keep my passport ready at the dresser and keep my fingers crossed.

No comments: