"‘Malasakit’—how can the Tagalog term for compassion now be such a monstrous health disaster?"
Dax Lucas, the insightful business writer from the Inquirer, sent last Sunday a photo taken from a cellphone of the spacious foyer that separates Greenbelt 4 from 5 in Ayala’s Makati shopping mecca.
There but for a solitary figure walking near the reflecting lagoon was the “new normal” shopping and dining crowd.
Last Saturday afternoon, my executive assistant and I went to the Mitsui shopping mall in Linkou district, about a 25-minute ride from downtown Taipei to buy our gifts for chief welfare officer, Dayang-Dayang Sittie Jaafar who would be celebrating her birthday that Sunday.
The place was bustling with a huge crowd attracted by sale discounts; there were lines of people waiting to enter restaurants; the children’s playground was full of happy kids and their parents taking pictures.
Dax’s photo essay, if I may call it that, made us sad when we got it just before the birthday lunch of our office colleague.
“Maninibago na tayo pag uwi natin,” said a co-worker, who last visited our country December 2019. Each one in the table had their stories from families back home about BGC, Rockwell, MOA, Makati, Pasig, and restaurants newly re-opened yawning with empty chairs and tables.
And we are supposed to be under a modified general community quarantine, and a long-awaited gradual re-opening of the economy, or so our friend Harry Roque speaks. It looks like the gradual will be a long adjustment period. Meanwhile, cry for the shops and restaurant owners who have to keep paying the rent and the payroll, along with utilities, to serve a market too timid, too afraid, or too thrift-conscious to revert to normal.
Two different worlds: where I am, and my country.
Sad we were, likewise, about the fate of dear friends who work in the largest broadcast network “killed” by a vote of 70 versus 11 in the House of Representatives last Thursday.
One of our employees in Taichung got married late last year to her long-time fiancée who works as a cameraman in ABS-CBN. For them and the lower-ranked employees who will find it difficult to get another job in these parlous times, we feel particularly sad.
Not so much for the Lopezes, who, as their ardent supporter, Ms. Vicky Garchitorena described in a post passed on to me the other day, “are no different from grizzly bears, or polar bears, who have fattened themselves to meet the most debilitating winter, hibernate in the cold, and rise up in spring…nakapagsubi na”.
I have my own stories to tell about the broadcast giant’s “bias” and “politicking” through years of being a political technician, but these I should reserve for the book I plan to write at some future date. Besides, that accusation against the network was not used as a basis for the denial of franchise, although it was raised during the hearings.
And I will always treasure with fondness my association with former Philippine ambassador to Japan, Manolo Lopez, who in the wake of Ninoy Aquino’s assassination at the tarmac of the international airport, was with me, along with five others, in planning the first ever Makati financial district anti-dictatorship rally. Manolo was never really active in managing ABS-CBN, more concerned with Meralco before the family sold it to the MVP-Salim group.
Grating to sensibility though were some of the antics and conduct displayed by some of our “honorable” congressmen, friends even, as they crucified the station in the committee hearings before the coup sans grace.
Congressional hearings could have used a large dose of civility and more cogent issues against the giant network and its owners. For instance, questioning Gabby Lopez’ citizenship went to ridiculous extent. If Grace Poe, who renounced her Filipino citizenship to acquire a US citizenship, then once again renounced the latter and re-acquired Philippine citizenship, was deemed by the Supreme Court eligible to become president, where is the legal and moral ground to question someone born of Filipino parents in a foreign land?
A political analyst-friend texted: “They (sadly, referring to our elected representatives) don’t really care about public opinion. Tutal, bibilhin lang naman nila ang boto sa 2022.”
In the midst of the contagion, not only in our country where there are now 57,066 cases reported, but in the mighty US of A, and Brazil, which two countries alone have more than 40 percent of the world’s total number of recorded cases thus far, we can only pray.
Relief from vaccines being furiously developed by several countries such as China, the US, and Europe has not materialized yet, and even when these preventive vaccines shall have been tested considerably as to warrant usage, the whole world will be competing furiously for supply and distribution.
A friend twitted me for having conceptualized “Tapang at Malasakit” for then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in early 2015, later captured in a television commercial the launch of which was delayed for two weeks as finances were hard to come by. With ABS or GMA, it was “pay before broadcast” (PBB), which also meant Pinoy Big Brother, a successful reality show the rights to which was imported by ABS from some European producer.
Even senatorial candidate Bong Go adopted the term “malasakit” as well when he did a successful run last year.
My friend texted: MALA ang SAKIT. “Mala” is Spanish for “bad”. In Tagalog patois, MALAS ang SAKIT.
How can you be more literal than that? How can the Tagalog term for compassion now be such a monstrous health disaster?
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