Case #1

I AM angry that I am writing in English this time. I am taking leave from my usual cultural commentaries to give way to something public must know, something too undignified that I think Bikol must not be desecrated by using it in retelling my fury. I know this won’t be the last; in fact, this is the first among things that I know I will be a lot keener about. I was challenged, thus, I will be from now on at guard. My name was unjustly used, and thus, I will insist on my principles.

Here is the tale. My mother telephoned me one evening two weeks ago, outrageous over the stupidity of a staff of Amigo Foundation in Tambo, Pamplona. Her annoyance was intensified with the staff mentioning my name in an mocking manner. As we all know, Amigo Foundation is the dole-out arm-in-the-guise-of-an-NGO of Dato Arroyo, unfortunately now the congressman of the first district of Camarines Sur. It is where Arroyo’s pork barrel is expected to go to. It is also where requests and solicitations for everything are generously accepted: from medals to trophies, from waiting sheds to barangay halls, from multicabs to ambulances—all of course, in the great political tradition of labeling ‘donations,’ must bear the name of the donor-politician.

The teachers in the public high school my mother heads decided to solicit some trophies and medals for their intramurals from Arroyo through the foundation. When one of the teachers made a follow up on the solicitation, the Amigo staff, by the name of certain Bong Alindogan, queried, “Who is this Nierva in your school?” The teacher clarified that the Nierva—my mother—being questioned is their school head. Alindogan, in utter idiocy and arrogance furthered, in Bikol, “ah, this Nierva is with Abang’s camp,” referring to Mayor Sabas Mabulo whom Arroyo defeated in the last election. Then he mentioned my name, “I had an argument with her son before because he was insisting on Abang. We should be practical these times.”

This ridiculous story of the teacher’s encounter with Alindogan brought me back to a few days just before the 2007 election, when he—then Arroyo’s campaign sycophant in San Fernando—and I met during Kampi’s local rally in Barangay Pamukid. With great belief and respect for our electoral freedom, I came to the rally because I was curious what the party might offer. It was the local lineup I was actually interested to know, and the lineup was not really bad; I even campaigned for now councilor-elect Noni Ragay, who will always have my high respect and belief as a leader and elder. Like Ragay, Alindogan and I are both members of Kabalikat Civicom which is by principle a non-partisan group, thus our meeting was casual and friendly. Then he started selling me the qualities of Arroyo, which I indeed vocally refused to accept since Arroyo was once my classmate in Ateneo de Naga way back in college and my experience with him in the class did not convince me that he was perfectly fit for the public office he is now happily occupying. In my exasperation, I concluded with a statement that I thought would finally silence him, I said, “I just can’t let an idiot lead my district.” To my dismay, and to more lucidly imply his idiotic thinking, he retorted with a question, “Are you saying that idiots do not have the right to lead us?” There goes Alindogan’s great flaw and brain drain manifestation. He had just agreed in his own words that Arroyo, his big boss now, is an idiot. He is now receiving a higher pay than his previous job.

I remembered it too that one night I turned on my UHF radio only to find him impertinently mocking Mabulo’s name in a frequency owned by a supposedly non-partisan group. In later prodding by the members, Alindogan was able to produce a very convincing alibi by saying that he was not aware he was transmitting his bully statements in the group’s frequency. Arsenio Lacson must have commented on him the adage he tagged the young Ernesto Maceda: “so young yet so corrupt.”

I hate being personal in things like this, but once common good is threatened by senseless mumblings of half-thought words, I tend to retaliate, especially when I am fully convinced that I am standing on a terra firma of clear and broad understanding of what I am fighting for. What Alindogan did was actually a disservice to the people of the first district, his being “practical” does not involve people other than himself. Worse, what he did was by all means a disservice to his big boss. Truly, he should know that whatever action he might do will bear not his name but the name of the big boss he is tasked to bootlick. He should read more—his boss should read more too—the lessons of great leaders and discover that politicking ends after plebiscite; that now is the time of service. He should know—and his boss should know too—that it is a public office that Arroyo holds, and it serves all, whether they voted for him or not. This early sign of impertinence may be minute but it suggests many things to expect for our part.

Now, all the more, I admit it, Abang lost the race, just like what happened to the late Raul Roco then, but I continue to believe that he is indeed the best person who could have occupied the position Arroyo occupies now—not mentioning that one seat in the gallery of the congress in which Arroyo will surely fall into deep slumber while his more brilliant colleagues will debate on pertinent things. Anyway, he’s a presidential son.

By the way, this is just the first case.


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