Monday, July 28, 2003

At dawn on the day I turned 37, some soldiers stormed into the heart of the city's premiere business and commercial center. They holed up in the historic Hotel Inter-Continental and the prestigious Oakwood apartments, planted some bombs around the perimeter, and proceeded to lay siege in the area.

A coup d'etat on my birthday. Nice.

I can almost hear the people groaning and whining all across the country. The Philippines needs another rebellion like I need another nostril. And you can almost swim through all the rhetoric that's clogged the air since the incident began.

All the experts are lamenting how the selfishness of these misguided military officers and their men is costing the country in terms of stability and investments and credibility and what not. I can't help holding my nose up in disdain at this perspective.

Yesterday afternoon, at the height of the coup, I texted a couple of people about how I seemed to be sympathetic to the cause of the mutineers. After all, among the grievances they aired where such serious allegations about corruption in the armed forces. A video footage aired on TV showed one of the officers livid with anger, hurling invectives at unruly members of the media. Never have I witnessed such passion, such a spontaneous and unbridled expression of sentiment and emotion from a government official. This outburst, more than anything else, elicited my sympathy and roused my admiration for the soldiers who laid their personal futures and their lives on the line yesterday in order to publicize their cause and make a point.

I find myself disappointed, not because the soldiers staged a very dangerous stunt, which could possibly have ended with so many lives lost and so much property damaged. I am terribly irked because the essence of the soldiers' rebellion, the cause that drove them to such lengths has now been lost in the ensuing rhetoric.

These were the same soldiers who, just months ago, courageously faced bombs, bullets, and treachery as they waged the government's war on the "enemy" in the south. If, after making such sacrifices, I find out that my bosses were in bed with "the enemy" all along, why, I'd be livid with anger myself. One of the leaders, Lt. Trillanes, came into the limelight when he produced his thesis presenting corruption in the Philippine navy. Lt. Trillanes had reportedly received numerous death threats after he had submitted his work, and reported these to his superior officers. Nothing had been done, no investigations initiated to deal with the allegations in Trillanes's work, nor for the threats to his life.

The dominant theme is: this coup attempt sets back our economic recovery. Damn us Filipinos! All that schooling has not made us better thinkers at all. The meaning of our existence has been reduced to securing the next meal. We just don't see beyond the confines of comfort. We don't know the value of sacrifice. We do not see that for every person that experiences the comfort and economic security, there are 9 others who bear the brunt of poverty and corruption. We think that economic stability is all there is to it.

Ah, heck, I feel I'm not expressing myself clearly about this. I'm just too emotional about the issue. I'll just write about it some more later, when I've arranged my thoughts and feelings.

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