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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, January 8, 2019
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Come To Think Of It
with Carlos Antonio L. Leonardia



My previous article inadvertently spent too much time and words on the Ateneo bully issue so after running out of space, I will continue discussing the other hot topics that ended 2018 and started 2019 that were not covered here.

One minor topic was the missing Mr. Duterte on Rizal Day but that’s not a surprise because our president has shown that he cannot be bothered to attend to such trivial matters. This is a guy who loves to declare holidays but instead of putting in hours pulling duty as president, he’d rather spend those holidays resting like the common folk that he claims to be.

This deserves a mention but not a lot of time because that’s just the way things are in the Philippines these days. Those who spend too much time on our dear leader’s absences from official functions will probably be accused of nitpicking so let’s remember not mind his bad habits and try focus instead on the important things.

One very important matter would’ve been Typhoon Usman that was going to affect the people of Negros who were predicted to be in its path right just as the Christmas holidays were peaking. We braced ourselves for a typhoon that was going to make our holidays inconvenient butit we weren’t that worried because it wasn’t really expected to be strong and our government didn’t really raise any extraordinary warnings.

Maybe they were already on holiday mode like their bosses, but the weather forecasters, local governments, and disaster reduction and management guys were caught sleeping on the job by the sneaky Typhoon Usman that was even downgraded into a tropical depression but brought with it unusually heavy rains that inundated many parts of the country.

The people of Negros were fortunate that the tropical depression’s course changed so we were spared but those in the Bicol region weren’t as fortunate. A month’s worth of rain fell in two days, resulting in flooding and landslides that reportedly killed 126, displaced 152,000, and caused P4.2 billion worth of damage.

Isn’t the Philippines supposed to be prepared for such disasters? Weren’t our weather forecasting systems supposed to have been upgraded even before this administration? Were the people of Bicol unusually unlucky this Christmas or were they failed by a government so overconfident it could afford to take a power nap during the holidays that were especially extended by our dear leader so his beloved people can enjoy life’s simple pleasures?

We can only hope that our government learned its lesson from whatever happened in Bicol during tropical depression Usman and measures are put in place to prevent it from happening again. It would be a happy new year for all Filipinos if our government officials actually learn from mistakes instead of making lame excuses, peddling outright lies, or treating everything as a joke.

Speaking of lame excuses, outright lies, or joke time, how about that utterly tasteless presidential joke to kick off the New Year?

No, I’m not referring to the one where Mr. Duterte campaigned for his boys Bato, Bong Go and Francis Tolentino when he graced calamity-stricken areas of Bicol with his presence, although that was also trademark Digong in terms of tastelessness. The one that caught the world’s attention was the admission, later downgraded to a joke, about the young Rodrigo molesting a female kasambahay. It’s hard to figure out what our president was thinking due to the advanced nature of his super strategic brain but he apparently thought it would be funny to tell a “story” of his attempts to force his hands inside the undies of his sleeping helper when he was 13.

The joke made me wonder who it was for and who was laughing. I have a pretty dark and irreverent sense of humor but that was nowhere near funny. What is funny about a 71 year old reminiscing about groping a sleeping maid when he was 13? Was there an important lesson to be learned that necessitated such disgusting details? Whether it was a legitimate joke, a straight up lie, or an admission, it didn’t serve any purpose except to make his audience laugh uncomfortably.

If you come to think of it, the joke isn’t the worst part. If it turns out I was wrong about the uncomfortable laughter of the people who were there when our dear leader made that disgusting joke/admission/lie and they actually enjoyed it, then this country is probably in deeper crap than I thought and in that case, no new year’s resolution could save our collective soul as a nation.

If the fingering the sleeping helper joke was not disgusting for you, you probably have no young children, know no vulnerable women, and are probably disgusted at my low opinion of the president’s opinions and I apologize for wasting your precious time.

But those who are disgusted by that joke and all the other jokes that this government likes to play on its people need to remember this is a critical year for making that disgust felt. How to deal with that disappointment and disgust is one New Year’s resolution many of us will have to seriously consider as we start 2019 and it the resolutions we make will affect whether 2020 and beyond will continue to be dominated with disgusting antics and people or if we can start living in a world that more inspirational and hopeful that it is disgusting.*  

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