After our regular Thursday lunch, some friends listened to the televised proceedings of the “tanim-bala” investigation by the Senate Blue Ribbon committee.  In the small group (the others having left after lunch), were a congressman, a former governor, four businessmen, an advertising guru, two political tacticians, and myself.

One would be hard put to describe our common reactions to the theater of the absurd that was playing before us on a giant TV monitor.  The victims of the Naia racket were clearly telling the truth about their horrible experiences at the once “worst” airport in the world, now a few notches above worst, but still in the realm of the worse.  With “tanim-bala,” it is likely to be adjudged the worst once again.  Their answers were forthright; there was hardly any put-on, any exaggeration.  Your heart would pour out for these victims.  And your mind would find the cruelty they experienced as simply incomprehensible.  As we write this, news reports say Nanay Gloria Ortinez’s contract job as a domestic helper in Hong Kong will no longer be renewed by her employer. 

The kindest word to describe the other “resource persons,” the government officials “in-charge,” was that they were “bewildered.”  They “honestly” believed they had done nothing wrong.  In their minds, they were the “victims” of Senate “bullying.” 

The PIs exclaimed by almost everybody in our small group after every contorted excuse wrung from the airport manager’s lips by the senators would put Rodrigo Duterte’s use of the Filipinos’ favorite expletive bland by comparison. 

TG Guingona was uncharacteristically kind to his resource persons.  Maybe his handlers advised him to be less pugnacious in his committee investigations.  Grace Poe was so engrossed with the small things, like whether the detained OFWs were served meals by Naia personnel during their detention.  Bongbong Marcos was clever, and made the government officials look like fools.  Alan Cayetano came prepared, and zeroed in on the airport manager’s clear inability to define his job, and the Office for Transportation Security for being “extra cautious” about bullets and amulets while letting 2.5 kilos of prohibited substances slip through the international airport, only to be caught in Hong Kong.  

Columnist Jarius Bondoc, writing in another paper, correctly asked how come no Filipino OFWs were caught with live bullets when they got to their destinations.  Surely the X-ray machines of other countries were at par, if not more sophisticated than those at our brokedown airports?

But  will the gross embarrassment, to government and the nation, cause the concerned officials to resign their posts? He, he, he… perish the thought.  Morir antes de dimitir.

* * *

I watched an interview by teen movie idol Daniel Padilla of my friend Mar Roxas.  Padilla, as the Liberal Party stalwarts around Mar enthused, has become their presidential candidate’s “brand endorser.”

A well-informed movie scribe said the endorsement cost some P50 million.  Whatever the price, what is certain is that Padilla did not come cheap.

The segment I saw was about Daniel asking Mar on how to solve the traffic problem that has gotten every resident of the metropolis crazy and angry.

Mar responded by taking first a long view: infrastructure. Tama siya doon.  And then he showed how “daang matuwid” and its Public Private Partnerships has begun the SLEX to NLEX connector road, which should be finished in another two years.  (Mar, if the stars align for him, will be the one to inaugurate this.)

But the second response got me flustered.  Mar observed, and correctly so, that ours is the only metropolis in the world where there is a multitude of privately-run buses traversing major thoroughfares.  There should be one single bus system.  Tama ka na naman dyan!

But Mar forgets he was Transportation and Communications secretary, and the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board which issues the franchises was under his supervision and policy direction. His successor, that descendant of Emilio Aguinaldo (ilustrado tambien, eh?), is now on top of the beleaguered and bewildered DOTC, whose Land Transportation Office could not release car plates and drivers licenses on time, and whose LTFRB issues and renews those transport franchises.  

So the listener of that paid interview is left asking a no-brainer:  So bakit ‘di ninyo ginawa,  all these years?  Alam mo pala ang solusyon…so what?

Haaay naku…as Maria Montelibano would exclaim.  Sabagay, marami namang perang itatapon.

* * *

Meanwhile, still on “infomercials” or paid media, Grace Poe complains about the daily grind of the poor “pasensyosong” Filipino, as he lines up for an MRT ride and gets squeezed once he finally gets inside, and declares that “together we should solve it.”  And she rolls up her immaculately white sleeves.


But Leni Robredo, Mar’s chosen veep, repeats her oft-stated “moral question” on Poe’s presidential ambitions.  “You’re running for President, and yet at one point in your life, itinakwil mo kami—you turned your back on us.”

Devastating. And if Poe’s myriad handlers who so far have mouthed non-sequiturs and lame obfuscations, don’t see how Leni’s “moral issue” will hound her candidacy regardless of what the SET and Comelec decide, then they are not worth the pay a super-tycoon is underwriting.

* * *

But the guy who his opponents derisively call “nognog,” “pandak,” in a striking black-and-white TVC that is sure to catch your attention because of the simplicity of the message and the sparseness of the production, tells the viewer … “may nagawa.”

The battle of the political ads amuses.  For guys like this writer, the immediate question in the mind is “sino gumawa”?  For the average televiewer, “may dating o wala”?  Totoo o hindi?  Does it evoke strong positive emotions, create the right impressions?   

Vamos a ver.  It’s still a long way till May.

* * *

Meanwhile, Alan Cayetano continues to titillate the public mind with a Duterte run.  “Matapang na Solusyon, Mabilis na Aksyon,” the tandem proclaims, after shocking images of “Martilyo Gang” and criminality riding roughshod, and in another version, of endless traffic jams and long MRT lines.

Frankly, I thought the Duterte phenomenon would cool off after Oct. 16, when the Davao mayor’s no show at the Comelec was the story that eclipsed all the presidential candidacies filed during that historic week.  Apparently, it’s still alive—ayaw mamatay-matay.

But ask anyone whether Duterte would run—even Alan, and likely you will get “ewan” for an answer.  

It’s 40 days before Christmas, but it’s 25 days before Dec. 10.  Abangan.

* * *

Yet suddenly, all too sadly, the Friday night attacks by terrorists in Paris leaves us speechless.  The horror is beyond words to describe.

What is this world coming to?  

Topics: Bewildered

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