Abr 10, 2002

The Debts We Service, the Deaths We Ignore

Our sense of indebtedness is skewed.

Our veterans have lived only to see this day. And they haven't seen the benefits promised to them by the Philippine letter of law. They march on.

After 1986, we have pledged continued service to a foreign debt that a tyrant made for us. The widow Aquino had enough reason and precedent to reject payment of the foreign debts. We were down then, the aftermath of a "revolution." But the whole world was looking up at us, great capitalists saw our bloodless revolution as the great counter-argument to Marxist solution. But it was not logical at all since it proved less of a revolution than it purported itself to be.

The world's banks were already positive that we would reject the debts. The people of the Philippines did not make it, a deposed dictator did. Peru claimed the same thing after they got rid of their dictator (in a bloodier way). The banks relented. The world's governments approved that the banks released the nation of debts made on its behalf but not by it.

We had more media coverage, more applause, more of the world's faith. And the governments would certainly give us more of the slack it gave to the Peruvian balls. We were a nation held captive. We got ourselves out. And we have to pay some ransom? No! The banks could have given us freedom if we claimed that what belonged to us by sovereign right was not debt but a clean blank slate.

Time's Woman of the Year then made a stand that would sicken me for the rest of my days. She had much pomp and hubris that we would all suffer from. So pridefully, as if she owned our future as much as the deposed one thought he did, she said those debts were ours. And not a centavo of it would come out of Hacienda Luisita.

Enter veterans. Veteran's Day, Bataan Day, Araw ng Kagitingan. The day of people who staked their lives for sovereignty. People who loved the future more than themselves, a future that they did not care to own, only to honor. Enter veterans. Heroes day. The day of the bright enduring ones who would die for the country.

Not merely say they would.

Most of their rank did. Our forefathers, our grandfathers and great grandfathers and their families. Bloody deaths without the peace of slumber or good times or full unwearied smiles.

Some of them lived. What did they survive to become. Bemedalled soldiers made to prostrate themselves as beggars, stripped of the dignity that they deserved. We would have been a race of noisy, good-for-nothing cowards if not for their sacrifice! I would not look back to an honorable past of look forward to hope were it not for them. There would have been no Filipino or Philippines as we know it if they did not hold the lines as far as they did.

But they are beggars. The ingrates of the legislature would only reap the rewards of their sacrifice without thanking them for it. Damn common thieves of the basest, vilest kind. They ignored the budget for our veterans. They saw only for their own pork barrels. It was the fault of the lower house. The house that would see and make only heroes that would give them media mileage. And these fathers who gave them their arenas of power? The kongresistas conveniently cross them out of the budget. A billion-peso treachery. And that already is, even if it were only about the money. But the boiling blood knows that it is much more.

The Senator, Mr. Vilma Santos, speaks now. There's just no budget. Well, the Congress was constitutionally directed to make that room. They were sworn to it! Though the heavens may fall! Lawmakers as they are, their consciousness of the Letter should drive them to resign if they could not make it happen. And they would have had much more honor.

But the only room made was for the Six-Billion pork barrel. The righteous Senate's oily hands are not bloodless. Pockets filled with lard, minds filled with the lust of power, what is the excuse for their oversight? The Senate could have rejected the whole budget or direct modifications where they saw fit! No excuse. It was not oversight at all. It was willed.

Not one of our elected elite stood up for the veterans. Sure, they will all die anyway. And every year we delay, we deny. All the better! Money was saved. Or used to finance other things more precious than honoring the blood of heroes. And we will all forget the injustice done our fathers.

Every year, we deny. But let the future generation be so warned. The fate of ingrates has been ingrained in us since our cultural infancy:

"ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan,
di makararating sa paroroonan."

And such a proud nation is not exempt.

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