Callousness and this Comedy of the Lowest Kind

By A S Agcaoili
Inquirer Editorial
Jul 16-22, 2005


The sins and scenes of the country and its fathers have become one of spectacle. The show goes on and that show is a comedy of the lowest kind. A political slapstick. Forget the wit and humor that goes with satire in criticizing what is happening but the staging of rallies by the extremes makes one guffaw with that kind of laughter that goes with remembering what had happened during the dark days of Martial Law.

The days were not only dim but grim as well—with the intellectuals going to prison, the writers going to the grave, and the poets dubbed nuts by the administrators of social injustice.

Some of those who now oppose every step towards normalcy now are either the very people who opposed the regime of blight and evil or the people who suffered during the nights of rage and disquiet. But some have benefited all the way—in either or all of the regimes, their kind always the parasite that knows how to adapt to the changing of the guards.

We see the names. We see the faces—and we can only puke as a people because there is this callousness that seems to have rules over us. This callousness has become a malady, a social disease—and it has made us forget so easily. The names are the same and now the children of those beneficiaries of the dark regime are the ones ruling over us now—their discourses on what is right and what is wrong, what is good for the country and our people landing on the first pages of newspaper.

What has made us forget so easily? What had made us unknowing, unable to go figure what was fact and what was not? What had made us see the connection between events—the connection of the many events between stages rallies in some such cities and other staged rallies in some such parks? When can we ever ask again with dignity the question, When will the rally start?

There is callousness among us now—people of and in the country. There is callousness now among migrants and immigrants in new lands because we are no unable to see the distinction between the products of puppets and puppeteers, the corny jokes of clowns, and the serious business of running the affairs of our country.
Callousness is that inability to feel even if one is able to see; it is that inability to see even if one is able to feel. There is one word in Filipino that captures this complex disease that become pandemic: kapal.

Kapal—thick-skinned, like some leaders who can still claim integrity despite the wanton abuse of their powers. Kapal—that attitude and disposition to hold on to power despite the clamor to see things more fully in the round.

Kapal goes with it the self-righteousness of many opposition leaders who, in their heyday, had only themselves to serve and minister and never others, with the perks and pelf of power only confined and circulated among themselves.

Callous, kapal. This is what this country—this beloved Philippines—of eternal immigrants and migrant, a people always in the diaspora, a people wandering from one corner of the world to another in search of possibilities to pursue their dreams. And our leaders—pretenders and those who are trying to strike it out to pretend some more—cannot feel, do not know how to feel—or they are just plain callous. Kapal.

Let us tell our leaders: Get real. Those who do not any better, well, suit yourself, serve yourself. The day of reckoning comes—it will come for certain.

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