The debate in the House of Representatives continues. We are not there but we see them online. Our representatives. We have voted them in and in the game of politics in democracy, half or more than half of the population in each town, in each city, in each province may not be properly represented because he or she has not agreed that that person should stand for him or her. In a case where we, presently viewing the exchange of words, are fated to have our favorite/beloved politician standing at the tribunal, our life is sealed to witness our destiny crumble or shine—is our representative good or dumb? Or, does he or she care about us at all?
Elections are double-bladed instruments: they are acts by which we surrender our luck to these persons who are supposed to be educated (astute, skillful, strategic, enlightened) enough to fight for us; elections, however, are also circuses we cannot do without because life is a raving fiesta. And so whether we are there in the august halls of the House of Representatives or in the House of the Senate, life is meant to go on for them and, unfortunately, for us.
We are therefore the missing Filipinos, represented but not thought of. We are the represented, foolish enough to support those who can murder our dreams.
Is there joy in these thoughts? Perhaps, joy is not the word. I could be happy that finally, while watching the exchange of interpretations between these personas of law and justice, I was realizing at best how glib politicians could be, how naturally and systematically insincere they mostly are. And, we, dumb enough to continue looking up to them, addressing them as honorable when honor is the last element in their soul, hope against hope, dream against dreams most impossible.
The debates cannot be stopped. And we can desist from watching or, because we are captive by these new technologies, we can follow them and think how we can best work our way into the lives of these lawmakers. For they, irony and sarcasm, are makers of laws. And we are the followers of laws.
What is it then that we want inserted into the political world? What are these scenes we desire to see in the politicians’ eyes as well? What do we thirst to find in their hearts?
There are scenarios that occur even as we speak of dire poverty unimaginable. For every interminable debate we view online, there are these rare gems of old men and women walking several kilometers each day to sell vegetables for less than a hundred pesos. And for each of these cases, the new social media has shaped men and women who are able to use these scenes to create vlogs that are monetized. And so what happens is that a man usually trails after these old people, stops them, milks the meeting for what it is worth—a dramatic tableau of pity and self-promotion. The vlogger offers a hundred and the aging vendor, with wooden chair on his back, or a bouquet of kangkong in her basket, begins to tear up. The vlogger does not stop there. He offers more and we bawl our eyes out. Not out of guilt but pure pity. Everything stops at pity. Action, which speaks louder than tears, seldom happens.
Or think of this father, unshod. A farmer, he wakes up early and walks with his little son and daughter to a distant school. He has reached only Grade 3, and can barely read and write. He has pinned his hopes on the tiny chests of his children just happy to be freed from farm work. No dramatic reenactment necessary here: we know the reality. Not everyone finishes the elementary grade. Where there is a need for home mentoring, what can this father offer his children?
Each year, the number of classrooms is never resolved. In urban areas, there are shifts in students attending classes. This means some students have to wake up early in the morning to attend the first shift and some need to go home late to fulfill the schedule. In rural areas, there is no shifting because there are no classrooms. The confidential funds, which are at the center of the heated debate at present, become an interesting topic when placed against photos of classrooms with no shutters or doors, or those exposed to the elements.
But we do not see these. Our world as academics is the same as that of the politicians. We theorize about rhizomes and decolonization; the politicos are worse: they talk of notions they do not even understand. But we deal with intellections, with ideas that have nothing to do with people with no lands, no homes and no futures.
Meditate on our other leaders. They are like the gods of the primitives: they live up there among the clouds. We propitiate them because we have been convinced of their might and divinity. Look, a film about the Chilean dictator Pinochet has made him into a vampire, a corruption that will never be materially corrupted while we subsist on memories of nationalism and search for identities. He lives on because people have hearts he can feast on and blood to suck, as we live on—the unsaid, the unnamed, the absent factor in a nation’s life.